Any tip for Ultra League that involve skill or strategy?

It seem that winning Ultra League involves either
a) Whaling rare candy and dust into elite legendaries
b) Guessing on the correct counter with the first mon and hoping RNG is on you side to shoot you charge move first (if you guess wrong switch rules are against you, if you shoot 2nd on simultaneous attack you always go second)
There seems to be very little skill or strategy.

Eh, this belongs in Pokemon GO. Look carefully before you post.

Anyways, (a) isn’t really that important. I’ve beaten teams consisting of 2-3 legendaries with a team of none. The important thing to note is that every single Pokemon has their weaknesses, and you need to “read” your opponents and what they would pick and pick good counters. I once led with a Steelix and just destroyed this guy who led with Giratina.
(b), however, is a problem. Lead with something that is at a disadvantage against the opponent’s, and you’re stuck with it for the rest of the game. The only way to counter this is to note what leads are most popular in UL and pick a lead accordingly. Swampert is the most common lead IMO so grab a good Grass type in your team. This does lead to some people playing mindgames though, so be cautious that you could lead with a Sceptile, sweep 4 Swamperts in a row then match up against a Charizard. If that doesn’t work, just pray that your opponent is terrible at memorizing which Pokemon are good against which. I remember one time in GL where I led with Altaria, my opponent led with Azumarill. Azumarill can easily beat Altaria in an even matchup but my opponent somehow decided that he was not doing well (maybe because of Bubble’s low damage output?) and switched to another Pokemon that had an even worse matchup against Altaria. You won’t see much of these people after you get to the higher ranks though.

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There’s a lot of discussion and topic here counter to that, but alright :thinking:

It will cost you dust for sure if you want multiple good pokemon, but you dont need legendaries

  1. Knowing how many fast moves it takes for your opponent to reach their charge moves. Let’s say you have a Sceptile and are facing a Venusaur. It’s a safe bet the Venusaur is running Frenzy Plant/Sludge Bomb. FP costs 45 energy and SB costs 50 energy. You can see from the animation the Venusaur has Vine Whip. Vine Whip generates 8 energy. You see 6 Vine Whips and they use a Charge Move. You know it has to be a Frenzy Plant so you don’t need to shield.
  2. Knowing when to bait shields. Take the above scenario but you see 7 Vine Whips. If you’re hit by Sludge Bomb you’re dead. If you shield and it’s Frenzy Plant, you wasted a shield. A good opponent might use Frenzy Plant to bait a shield (this depends on how many shields they have and how close you are to an Earthquake).
  3. When to swap Pokemon to tank a Charge Move. Looking at our Sceptile/Venusaur scenario maybe you have a Jirachi so just when you see that 7th Vine Whip you swap to Jirachi to tank the Sludge Bomb and then beat it with Confusions or force them to switch. This will all of course depend on whether your opponent has already switched Pokemon or you’re confident they don’t have a counter for Jirachi.
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Regarding your leading pokemon, I’ve had tremendous success leading with pokemon that have good coverage and weaknesses that are relatively rare. So far, I’ve been successful leading with a Lick/Body Slam Snorlax that baits shields well, but have had the most success with a Clefable with Charm/Meteor Mash+Pyschic. It covers most, most lead mons don’t hurt it much, and it often forces the first switch.

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I have a level 38, 98% Registeel with Lock-On+Flash Cannon. Maxed Clefable with Charm+Meteor Mash+Psychic. Shiny Giratina-Alt with Shadow Claw+Dragon Claw. I always start with that Registeel…I do fine when my opponent starts with Giratina, Venusaur or Clefable/Togekiss. HOWEVER, any fire (Charizard/Typhlosion), fighting, or Swampert scares me…Empoleon usually gets the best of Regi, too. Part of it is predicting when a trainer is a semi-faker, ex: me with one move ultra-league legendaries

As far as I understand these are the skills involved in PoGo:

1 Memory: Memorize a type chart, charge moves of gazillion mons, how much energy they require, how much they generate, etc.
2 Spare time: So you can farm gazillion dust and candy to power up lots of Pokemon and buy second moves.
3 Money: In case you don’t have enough time you can spend your way into doing more raids, hatching more useful pokemons and getting more dust buy buying items.
4 Live in a Urban area: I mean, some people reach two gyms from their sofa and live in places where pokemons are very abundant.
5 Luck: Even if you do all of the above there are only three mons and you can’t have coverage for everything so you will still lose some battles.
6 Cheating: Well, spoofing, multi-accounting, bots, buying accounts, etc.

I like the game but know that there is little skill involved, if you like strategy or skill games you should try some with a more levelled field that don’t depend so much on luck/money/where you live (Eg: Chess)


Yeah about that: how unfair and completely not justified is it to tap the charge move button only to see your move land on a different pokémon than the one that was there when you hit the button? Considering how important charge moves are and how long it takes to charge them, it’s very frustrating! In addition to be completely illogical! When your opponent switches, you will not stubbornly go with the same move, you will change accordingly! It’s perfectly alright that my opponent memorized how many licks it takes to charge my Snorlax’s outrage, but if they decide to switch out their pokémon for another one, then good, it makes sense to charge energy until the very last moment before fainting (or having to shield). But then my charge move order should be cancelled and I should have the option to use the other one.

The current situation leads to using one or two more fast moves “just in case”, which is
a) completely illogical
b) risky of your health is low

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I think this is exaggerating. I may agree for raids, but not for PvP. Many players have reported having excellent results in GBL with cheap teams. I’m not really hardcore myself, I just play the matches I get out of my regular walks and I invested what… probably 80k stardust, maybe 100k but I don’t think so, for my entire team. I have reasonably good results (rank 7, win rate about 60%). Oh yes I got rolled over a few times and I haven’t been very good all along, but I learned a lot about strategy and how to trick my opponents. This weekend alone, I tried a few new elements in my team, with terrible results (1/5 wins). Until I found a much better candidate for my last slot, which brought me to 9/10 wins afterwards.

What skills are involved IMO:

  1. Lead management: you have to decide when the matchup is good enough for you to get an advantage (first kill -> switching advantage, burning shields, etc.) or if it’s a disadvantageous one. How bad is it? Is it worth taking the risk of switching out? If you do switch out, do you bring a hard counter or a soft counter, hoping the opponent will not counter-switch? When to switch (after a charge move to burn shields, or before a charge move to keep farmed energy)? How can you get something out of it (maybe your pokémon will faint quickly, but not without burning your opponents shields)? All this requires a lot of thinking in little time. Experience help. You need to build up that skill.
  2. Lead choice: You have to carefully select a pokémon which will take you to the situation you want most of the times, according to the previous point.
  3. Team building: Build a team to counter the meta instead of going for meta pokémons. Using websites is a good start, but at a certain point just take into account the mons you are seeing the most often in your rank/rating and use counters for that. Also, avoid keeping hard weaknesses for those often met pokémon.
  4. Know how to shield bait.
  5. Know how to detect a shield bait.
  6. Know. Your. Type. Chart.

I can definitely relate to the frustration, but at the same time, I think it involves the skill of anticipating switch (or not) and timing the switch from both sides, which adds to your excellent write-up of skills in PoGo PvP.

100% agreed. Particularly on your last three points. Even a team with near-perfect coverage for the big threats will have severe difficulty getting wins if you, as a player, can’t bait or resist baits. The amount of times I’ve taken a “calculated” risk eating a charge move and paid for it is not insignificant . Conversely, a cheap team (however unlikely due to matchups) can still secure wins if the player has their head screwed on right.

Half of these don’t even pertain to whether or not you do well in GBL. Sure, powerful Mons let you stomp the less prepared/knowledgeable players; but once you get high enough to match with the stronger players, strong mons only get you so far on their own. Without the skill behind you, you’re gonna just end up languishing in low rating territory. Luck and cheating definitely are factors in doing well, but the kinds of cheating you refer to aren’t.

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Ultimately, you’re right. But it feels wrong :sweat_smile:

One thing I do is to count how many fast moves should get my opponent the first charged move thrown. If I’m at a type disadvantage, I switch out to something that resists it (if I have it…) to avoid a shield usage. The problem are mirror matches with coverage moves (a.k.a. Venusaur or Swampert mirrors), which are painful because you’re at the hands of priority RNG.

That’s a risky thing to do, though, because you’re likely going to face something that hard counters your switch… if they have it :slight_smile:

Which is why I really avoid switching as much as possible, because as soon as you go past the easy ranks, people know what they are doing. Switching inevitably results in a hard counter switch. So I prefer keeping my pokémon in position in a slightly unfavorable matchup, at least I save my shields. When I am really facing a very bad matchup, I try to switch to something more neutral, so that the opponent is less tempted to switch… Doesn’t work all the time…

Not much, perhaps, but you will see a few. I’ve been leading with Alolan Muk, and I’m generally happy when the opponent leads with Venusaur. I expect them to switch, and hope I have a solid counter for the switch. But in a few cases, the opponent switches from Venusaur to Giratina, which makes me chuckle, since A-Muk just destroys Giratina. As you say, it’s rare, but I didn’t expect to see that kind of play in level 8.

On the flip side, there’s game error. A-Muk led off, facing a Heracross. Not a good matchup for me, so I went to switch to Clefable, but for some reason, the game decided I wanted Snorlax in instead. That’s clearly going from bad to worse, and I have no recourse except to let Snorlax die quickly and then take all the damage from the energy Heracross farmed. That battle was truly ugly, and I’m certain that I tapped Clefable, not Snorlax.

I’ve had a similar thing happen to me. Usually when a Mon has died and I’ve tapped the replacement but it brings up the switch UI again so I instantly switch to whatever Mon is left as I tend to tap between the charge move buttons

This is arguably the first and greatest barrier to doing well in PvP. In addition to learning the type-chart by heart (it’s not a simple thing) you also need to have encyclopedic memory of (at least the relevant) Pokémon’s typings and movesets. Just knowing your Venusaur has an advantage over Feraligator isn’t good enough if you can’t tell that Feraligator has Ice-type moves with which to hit back. I realized this playing with my wife. I am really good at remembering and recalling trivia and she is pretty average at it. This is the biggest difference in our wins and losses. And as movepools expand and more Pokémon are added, this is going to become even more of an issue.

Anyone that tells you it requires a pile of legendaries and a large investment frankly just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Most of the lists about ‘ideal’ teams actually aren’t very good long term because the player base changes they’re squads to counter what they are seeing. A Pokémon that sites rate as 1/5 for whatever league you’re looking at may be amazing since it counters what the majority of the player base is using.

General tips:

  1. Unlike PvE, PvP takes thought. If you follow a template a website is telling you works, while it may work at first or for a while, it will eventually guarantee you no better than a 50/50 win percentage, but probably will end up giving you a worse win streak.

  2. You are competing against the majority of other players. Example what I mean by this - Registeel is listed as 5/5 for UL, and many ratings for other Pokémon at that rank given as a comparison to the 5/5 ‘meta.’ Their rating in part based on how they hold up against the Meta, however, at least right now, Registeel is pretty rare in UL (more common in ML), so do you really need to worry about countering a Pokémon you just aren’t going to see regularly?

  3. If you focus on trying to hit the perfect counter at the perfect time, you’ll probably get caught more often than not with your pants down. I prefer trying to have as many neutral matchups as possible with the Pokémon people are commonly using. If I can have 2/3 matchups be mostly neutral, and even lose those matchups, but make them ‘close’ fights, then I can usually find one strong counter somewhere during the match to turn the match in my favor.

  4. ‘A weakness is only a weakness if the rest of the player base is targeting that weakness’ / ‘A neutral opener is better than a ‘counter’ opener. This is a combo of the two above points. One guy in this thread mentioned Snorlax with lick and body slam as his opener UL); commentary on snorlax from the websites focus a lot on how Snorlax is hard countered by common fighting Pokémon and his rating is lower by a point because of it, however, very, very, VERY rarely will you see anyone use a fighting Pokémon in their lead (and really, not many people use fighting in UL at all). Snorlax becomes a good lead then because it is a neutral matchup against just about all Pokémon people actually CHOOSE to lead with, and most all non-fighting Pokémon. Usually people will let you beat or take their lead down 90-95% of its health against Snorlax cause they’re worried about what you have on the bench, and they are also trying to protect their own bench from a neutral matchup like this. If more people opened with fighting in UL, Snorlax’ worth would plummet, but as long as so many people. NOTE - Snorlax is just one example here since it was mentioned earlier.

Okay, I have a bunch more I would type, but I’ve already made this message longer than most people would read, so I’ll stop there :wink:


I do wanna say that my poor Snorlax has become less useful since people have discovered Poliwrath.