The Impact of Level 50 Pokémon in the Great League

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Article by Lorma_96

In the month of December 2020 the huge GO Beyond update will drop in Pokémon GO, and it will bring a lot of news. Among them, the most relevant when it comes to PvP is by far the possibility to power up your pokémon beyond their previous maximum CP — all the way up to level 50!

In this article we’re going to explore what this means for the metagame of the Great League, looking at all the pokémon that are going to receive the most significant upgrades. And if you’re curious about the Ultra League too, you can read all about it right here!

The Upgrades

The most relevant changes brought by the GO Beyond update in the meta of the Great League involve pokémon that were already relevant in the first place, and will now get a buff to their stats thanks to the additional levels that they can be powered up at.


Bubble + Any Charged Moves

Rank Attack Defense HP Level IVs CP
Old Rank 1 ATK 94.8 DEF 131.9 HP 189 Level 40 IV 8-15-15 1500 CP
New Rank 1 ATK 91.5 DEF 136.5 HP 196 Level 45.5 IV 0-15-15 1499 CP

Out of all the pokémon that could get an upgrade, the king of the Great League Azu is probably the one that deserved it the least. It is a very minor upgrade in terms of stats, comparable to the difference between the previous rank 1 and rank 500, but that’s enough to flip a scary number of relevant matchups. The new best IV Azu can reach one extra Ice Beam to take down Deoxys Defense, Tropius and Shadow Hypno with shields down, and it doesn’t even need to land the Hydro Pump to beat Skarmory and Galarian Stunfisk in the 1-shield anymore. Toxicroak and Return Sableye can’t beat this new Azu in any even shield scenario, and even a double-shielded Wigglytuff can now lose if it gets hit with a Play Rough. At least having an Azu beyond level 40 is not crucial in the mirror match, which often goes to the one with the higher Attack stat instead!


Counter + Ice Punch & Psychic or Dynamic Punch

Rank Attack Defense HP Level IVs CP
Old Rank 1 ATK 107.4 DEF 131.9 HP 134 Level 40 IV 15-15-15 1431 CP
New Rank 1 ATK 105.8 DEF 140.3 HP 142 Level 50 IV 5-15-15 1499 CP

If you got into PvP back when it was first released, Medicham was probably one of the first pokémon that you maxed out for it. Later outshined by other Counter users such as Shadow Machamp, it could make its way back into the meta now that it can finally reach the 1500 CP cap to reach the bulk levels of Altaria and Deoxys Defense. If you power up your previously maxed hundo to level 43.5, it will have more chances to eke out a win in the close matchups against Toxicroak, Venusaur and Deoxys Defense. The gains get more substantial if you break the bank to max out a new Medicham, with a lower Attack IV: the new rank 1 is uniquely capable of beating Altaria, Skarmory and Meganium in the 2-shield scenario with straight Ice Punch, as well as Swampert if the Dynamic Punch lands, while with Psychic (assuming the opponent doesn’t have Play Rough) it can even beat Azumarill with shields down!


Shadow Claw + Return* & Foul Play

Rank Attack Defense HP Level IVs CP
Old Rank 1 ATK 123.2 DEF 119.3 HP 120 Level 40 IV 15-15-15 1476 CP
New Rank 1 ATK 118.1 DEF 126.5 HP 127 Level 49.5 IV 0-15-15 1499 CP
New Purified Rank 1 Level 48 IV 3-14-15 1498 CP

In the unique case of Sableye the Purified variant is still generally superior thanks to Return, and having it should be prioritized. Purified Sableye can’t have the new optimal IVs, but it can go very near: if you’re lucky enough to have one that fits this description (and the resources to power it up), it will often enjoy new bulkpoints against Galarian Stunfisk and Vigoroth to take them down in the 0- and 1-shield scenarios. It can now also beat Altaria and Tropius in the 2-shield by a minimal margin if the Return lands. Having a lower Attack stat can backfire in the mirror match though, where charged move priority matters.


Smack Down + Stone Edge & Flamethrower

Rank Attack Defense HP Level IVs CP
Old Rank 1 ATK 83.7 DEF 237.8 HP 134 Level 40 IV 12-15-15 1497 CP
New Rank 1 ATK 78.9 DEF 252.9 HP 142 Level 50 IV 0-15-14 1497 CP

The biggest tank in the Great League is about to get even tankier. It benefits a lot from the update in terms of stats, but this doesn’t really reflect in its matchups. Bastiodon was a win hard, lose hard kind of pokémon anyway, and it will continue to win and lose against the same things, just slightly differently here and there. The new best IVs only flip the Venusaur and Meganium matchups, gaining a key bulkpoint against the former, and allowing a second Flamethrower to be reached in the 1-shield scenario against the latter.

Honorable Mentions

Among other pokémon who already saw some play, the new rank 1 of Wormadam-Trash gains wins over Azumarill and Vigoroth thanks to new key bulkpoints. Dusclops can now beat Shadow Hypno and (with correct shielding) Galarian Stunfisk in the 2-shield scenario. Jumpluff and the different variants of Castform also see minor upgrades to their stats, with little difference in practice.

The New Faces

The level 50 update won’t only buff pokémon that were already relevant in the Great League, but also bring to relevance some of those that hadn’t seen much play before. Well, at least one in particular...


Lick + Body Slam* & Power Whip

Rank Attack Defense HP Level IVs CP
Old Rank 1 ATK 97.2 DEF 120.1 HP 175 Level 40 IV 15-15-15 1411 CP
New Rank 1 ATK 97.4 DEF 126.8 HP 186 Level 49.5 IV 8-14-15 1499 CP

Munchlax and Snorlax reached relevance in GO Battle League thanks to the powerful combination of Lick and Body Slam, most commonly as safe switches. Despite having the same moveset, Lickitung was always sidelined because its Body Slam was a Raid day exclusive move and you needed to have a hundo to max out. So, now that it can reach the CP cap even with lesser IVs, how does it compare to the Lax brothers? Well, first of all Licki has become considerably bulkier, and that helps to eke out extra wins in the 1-shield scenario against Deoxys Defense, Tropius, Altaria, Abomasnow, Ferrothorn, and even Toxicroak if it doesn’t get hit with a Sludge Bomb! Secondly, though Bulldoze can come in handy against Steel-types, the Grass coverage of Power Whip allows Lickitung to function as a soft counter to Azumarill, handle other Water-types quite well and have a quicker neutral hit to take down Sableye without needing to bait. Overall, it looks like we have a new best Body Slammer in the League, downgrading Munchlax to its budget alternative!


Lick + Body Slam* & Power Whip

Rank Attack Defense HP Level IVs CP
Old Rank 1 ATK 59.2 DEF 95.6 HP 313 Level 40 IV 15-15-15 1026 CP
New Rank 1 ATK 63 DEF 101.6 HP 333 Level 50 IV 15-15-15 1160 CP

No, unfortunately this buff won’t be enough for Purified Wobbuffet to suddenly become a real thing. Yes, it will continue to be a meme pick — just a slightly more functional one, beyond the surprisingly high bulk for its low CP. We already have a better Psychic-type with Counter in Deoxys Defense, which hits harder and has better matchups against Azumarill and Flying-types. Wobba does have more play against Ground-types such as Swampert and Galarian Stunfisk, to be fair.


Confusion + Sludge Bomb & Bug Buzz

Rank Attack Defense HP Level IVs CP
Old Rank 1 ATK 89.3 DEF 139.8 HP 134 Level 40 IV 15-15-15 1224 CP
New Rank 1 ATK 94.9 DEF 148.7 HP 142 Level 50 IV 15-15-15 1384 CP

Wurmple’s evolution used to be the non-legacy alternative to the often relevant Poison Fang Venomoth in past Silph Cups. Once the Moth got Poison Fang back, there wasn’t much reason to play Dustox anymore and it completely fell off the radar. However, now with level 50 it gets so bulky (more than Altaria!) that it can finally be considered straight up better than Venomoth, with a much more consistent win over Azumarill among others. That’s not enough to make it a good investment for open Great League, but it is something.

Honorable Mentions

Ledian, Pachirisu and Corsola become extremely bulky with the extra power ups, and they could now be viable options for their respective typings, although they all lack a little in the moveset department. Spinda will now be kind of usable as a meme pick, boasting the fastest Icy Wind in the game!

Lastly, there’s a long list of base and middle stage pokémon that used to cap in the 1100-1400 CP range, and can now compete with their evolved forms. Here are the ones actually worth looking into, if you’re into spicy picks:

  • Lombre will still be slightly squishier than Ludicolo, but it has the much more useful Bubble Beam instead of Hydro Pump.
  • Grimer is a peculiar Poison-type with Mud Slap, which might come in handy in future type-restricted formats.
  • Vullaby can’t even come near to the tankiness of Mandibuzz, but it has an actual Flying-type charged move in Brave Bird.
  • Slowpoke, Alolan Geodude and Alolan Sandshrew all have a charged move (Psyshock, Rock Slide and Night Slash respectively) that sets them apart from their evolutions, but you’d still almost always rather play the latters.
  • Wailmer, Poliwhirl and Smoochum are things of their own with really good and unique movesets, and probably the most interesting picks in this list.
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About the Author(s)

Writer and graphic designer for GamePress, from Sicily (Italy). Illustrator since childhood.