There are only a handful of Play! Pokémon tournaments every year, but the GO Battle League in Pokémon GO is always available for Trainers to hone their battling skills. Season 10: Rising Heroes has just begun, and with it comes new opportunities to climb the ladder with the goal of reaching Legend rank, explore new formats, and earn great rewards including Stardust and Legendary Pokémon.
The GO Battle League rotates through three main formats twice every Season. Pokémon eligibility in these formats is based on Combat Power (CP): Great League (1,500 CP and under), Ultra League (2,500 CP and under), and Master League (no limit). Each of these main formats is typically available for two weeks at a time before rotating to the next.
You might be most familiar with the open Great League format, which is used for Play! Pokémon tournaments. However, the GO Battle League also offers opportunities to explore formats with different restrictions and requirements, such as Pokémon type, via special cups. In addition to the three main open formats, there is always a special cup available in the GO Battle League, which rotates every week. Today, we’ll take you through each of the special cups available during GO Battle League: Rising Heroes as well as general advice on preparing for multiple formats. A full list of details about GO Battle League: Rising Heroes can be found here.
Before we dive into specifics, here are a few tips on playing unfamiliar formats.
Use Pokémon you’ve used before. It might be daunting to jump into something brand-new, but a good method for identifying strong Pokémon in restricted formats is to look at eligible Pokémon that are already strong in the open formats. If Trevenant is strong in the open Great League, chances are that it will still be strong when the field of opposing Pokémon is even smaller, such as in the Color Cup. This allows you to use Pokémon you already have, conserving resources and capitalizing on your familiarity with those Pokémon.
Find a flexible core for your team. The specialty cups don’t last very long, so it can be tough to determine which Pokémon will make up the meta. (The “meta,” short for “metagame,” is comprised of the most-used Pokémon in a specific format.) Therefore, as you design a team of three, try to make sure your team has an answer for Pokémon that are typically used in similar formats. A popular formula for building a team of three is to start with a core consisting of two Pokémon that can handle the majority of those most-used Pokémon. Depending on a Trainer’s style, this core is often accompanied either by a relatively flexible, safe Pokémon that can deal neutral damage in the majority of matchups, or a Pokémon that provides similar coverage to one of the two core Pokémon. For each cup, we’ll discuss a couple of options for cores you can try, along with a range of other picks that can accompany almost any duo.
Great League Cups (1,500 CP and Under)
Color Cup (March 8–15, 2023)
The first themed cup in the Great League this Season was the Color Cup, where only Fire-, Water-, Grass-, and Electric-type Pokémon were eligible. We saw some familiar faces from the open Great League, such as Toxapex and Swampert. One popular core pair was Toxapex/Trevenant, as Trevenant can handle both Swampert and Electric-type Pokémon like Lanturn that might give Toxapex some trouble. Another core was Swampert/Abomasnow, with Abomasnow providing a counter to Grass-type Pokémon. Among the most flexible picks were Cradily and Galvantula, which can deal neutral damage to most Pokémon in the meta. Zapdos and Victini are less easily acquired than most Pokémon (most Trainers only have one Victini!), but those who were lucky enough to wield these rare Pokémon got great mileage out of their versatility in the Color Cup.
Psychic Cup (March 15–22, 2023)
The Psychic Cup—unsurprisingly, a cup where only Psychic types are eligible—has been run before, during the Season of Light in late 2022. It was quite a narrow meta, with Victini and Malamar dominating the arena. Malamar, a Dark and Psychic type, is one of the only Pokémon that can reliably deal supereffective damage to other Psychic types. Victini’s fast and powerful V-Create allows it to quickly deal devastating neutral damage to almost every opponent in the format. Gardevoir and Galarian Rapidash were viable third Pokémon to accompany this pair since they can deal supereffective damage to Malamar with every Fast Attack and only take neutral damage from Foul Play. The dual Steel- and Psychic-type Pokémon Bronzong and Metagross also found a niche as a response to those prominent dual Fairy- and Psychic-type Pokémon. For another option, Alolan Raichu had access to a relatively cheap but powerful Charged Attack, Wild Charge.
Mountain Cup (March 22–29, 2023)
The Mountain Cup brings a brand-new set of requirements: only Ice-, Ground-, Rock-, and Steel-type Pokémon are eligible, and Swampert is banned. Even with this ban, other dual Water- and Ground-type Pokémon like Whiscash and Marshtomp are still likely to take a central place in the meta. Since every eligible Grass type will take supereffective damage from Fighting-type attacks, Escavalier and Lucario will be powerful allies to the core Water/Ground Pokémon through the plentiful damage they’ll deal with the Fast Attack Counter. Trainers may also go for Lycanroc as a fun choice that usually doesn’t see much play in the GO Battle League. Ferrothorn and Runerigus might also form a compatible duo, as both of Runerigus’s types resist the Fighting-type damage that threatens Ferrothorn. Dual Water- and Ice-type Pokémon like Walrein and Lapras will also be solid picks given their ability to deal neutral damage to most Pokémon in the format and still fare decently in their worst matchups against Counter users.
Spring Cup (April 5–12, 2023)
The Spring Cup will be another brand-new cup. Water-, Grass-, and Fairy-type Pokémon will be eligible, excluding Toxapex. The meta might end up centralizing around the dual Water and Poison types Tentacruel and Qwilfish, as they resist Water- and Fairy-type damage while dealing supereffective damage to Grass types and can fit on most teams. Still, there are many eligible Pokémon in this cup that can at least deal neutral damage against the majority of contenders. For example, Abomasnow/Shadow Abomasnow, Mawile, and dual Water-and Ice-type Pokémon like Sealeo and Walrein will all do reliable damage against almost every Pokémon in the format. Some possible cores that players can try are Abomasnow with Lanturn, as Lanturn covers both Flying-type opponents and the Water- and Poison-type Pokémon that threaten Abomasnow, or Pelipper with Trevenant, as Trevenant provides a counter to Lanturn.
Evolution Cup (April 12–19, 2023)
The Evolution Cup is another cup returning from the Season of Light, in which only Pokémon that have evolved at least once and can evolve again are eligible. The list of potential contenders is relatively small and centralized, consisting mainly of Dragon-type Pokémon (Dragonair, Zweilous, and Hakamo-o), Fighting-type Pokémon (Machoke and Vigoroth), Golbat, Sealeo, and Dusclops. The good news about small metas like this is that it’s relatively easy to build a line of three that covers the majority of Pokémon you’re likely to encounter. Instead of pointing out specific pairs of Pokémon for this cup, my recommendation is simply to pick at least one of the Fighting-type Pokémon along with any two of the other listed Pokémon.
Sunshine Cup (May 10–17, 2023)
Only Normal-, Fire-, Grass-, and Ground-type Pokémon are eligible in the Sunshine Cup. Wing Attack users, including Charizard, Noctowl, and Pidgeot, look particularly strong in this format, with the only reliable counter to this trio being Galarian Stunfisk. Considering that, any of those Flying types allied with Swampert, Vigoroth, or Dubwool will provide good coverage for the majority of likely opponents. Like the Evolution Cup, we can expect this cup to gather a relatively small but flexible meta.
Catch Cup (May 24–June 1, 2023)
The Catch Cup will take place during the final week of the Season, and only Pokémon caught during that week will be eligible. While this can be a good opportunity to power up Pokémon that you encounter in the wild during that week that you haven’t used before, the window of eligible Pokémon is small enough that it can be difficult to build a balanced team of three. Given the restrictions in this format, it’s difficult to predict which Pokémon will be used most frequently. If you have the time and resources to spare, this might be a good test of your training skills and ability to adapt on the fly!
Ultra League Cups (2,500 CP and Under)
Fantasy Cup (March 1–8, 2023)
In the first of two themed cups that will take place in the Ultra League, only Dragon-, Steel-, and Fairy-type Pokémon will be allowed. The usual suspects Registeel and Altered Forme Giratina, which are already well-rounded together in the open Ultra League, may be the best duo core in this meta, since Registeel covers the Fairy-type Pokémon that threaten Giratina. Tapu Fini and Excadrill are also strong picks that can join any team of three, as Tapu Fini can deal neutral or supereffective damage to almost every other Pokémon, and few eligible Pokémon can resist Excadrill’s Ground-type attacks. For Trainers who have an Ultra League–eligible Solgaleo, the Fantasy Cup could be the Sunne Pokémon’s time to shine, as it thrives against Registeel and Fairy-type Pokémon.
Weather Cup (April 19–26, 2023)
The Ultra League Weather Cup will be familiar to those who played it during the Season of Light, with only Fire-, Water-, Ice-, and Rock-type Pokémon being eligible. Just like Swampert in the Great League cups, Water-type Pokémon are quite strong, with only a couple of Grass-type Pokémon (Cradily, Ludicolo, and Abomasnow) to fear. Cradily’s unusual dual Grass and Rock typing means it can hit almost any opponent for supereffective damage, and is a major threat to any team with shields down. A straightforward core duo for this cup would be Abomasnow paired with any Water-type Pokémon that does well against Poliwrath (the best Water type against Abomasnow), such as Lanturn, Ludicolo, or Jellicent. Weather Cup: Ultra League will likely be the most resource-intensive format aside from the Master League cups this Season, so choose your Pokémon wisely!
Little Cups (500 CP and Under)
Little Cup (March 29–April 5, 2023 & May 3–10, 2023)
The Little Cup is a perennial favorite—it usually comes around at least once a Season and is always a great joy to play. In the basic Little Cup format, the only eligible Pokémon are 500 CP and under and can evolve but haven’t, meaning we see a lot of small, cute Pokémon that might otherwise not be used. Bronzor stands out as the centerpiece of the meta, as it’s extremely bulky and can win almost every matchup, even when it’s at a type disadvantage. As a result, the meta centralizes around Bronzor and Pokémon that deal supereffective damage to it, such as Deino, Seel (both Lick and Water Gun are viable Fast Attacks), and Wooper. Wynaut, Jangmo-o, and Ducklett struggle against Bronzor, but they do well enough against Pokémon that threaten Bronzor that they are also viable.
Element Cup (May 17–24, 2023)
In this format, which first appeared in Season 8, the only eligible Pokémon are Water, Grass, or Fire types that can evolve but haven’t. Ducklett is probably the strongest pick in this cup and can easily benefit any line of three. Its ability to learn Brave Bird along with Wing Attack’s swift energy generation means it can quickly deal enough damage to knock out most of its opponents with a single Charged Attack. Ducklett only struggles against Chinchou, the sole Electric-type Pokémon in the meta. While Ducklett is dominant, Pokémon such as Vulpix, Slowpoke, Chikorita, and Cottonee are strong choices. Trainers should watch out for Pokémon that deal heavy damage with Fast Attacks, such as Razor Leaf–users Oddish, Lotad, and Rowlet. They can be devastating in a cup where Pokémon have relatively little HP.
Master League Cups (No CP Limit)
Master Premier Cup (April 26–May 3, 2023)
The last of the special cups for the Season is the Master Premier Cup, which has no CP limit and bans Legendary and Mythical Pokémon. This offers a more accessible option for Trainers who want to use their massive, maximum-level Pokémon but haven’t amassed the resources to play the open Master League just yet. The common Dragon and Steel pairing that we often see in other leagues makes an appearance here, with Dragonite, Kommo-o, and Haxorus all forming nearly airtight cores with Metagross, Excadrill, or even Magnezone. Snorlax, Florges, and Machamp are the main options to accompany that core, but Trainers can do well in this format by choosing any Dragon-type Pokémon along with any Steel-type Pokémon and a third Pokémon of any type they like.
The special, one-week cups are a great opportunity to battle with Pokémon that haven’t carved out their niche in the open leagues, but might shine in more restricted formats. They’re also a great opportunity for Trainers to up their game by learning how to use new Pokémon and adapt quickly to unfamiliar matchups. Of course, you always have the option to play in the more familiar open formats in the GO Battle League, but hopefully you feel a bit more ready to dive into new territory.
Interested in learning more GO Battle League strategy for Pokémon GO? Learn how to get started in the GO Battle League, master Fast Attacks and Charged Attacks when battling, learn how to work with Shadow Pokémon, and make use of more advanced techniques like counting your opponent’s attacks.
Sophtoph is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. She has been an avid enjoyer of the GO Battle League since its release and has reached the top 10 on its global leaderboards. She can often be found sharing her battles at Twitch.tv/sophtoph or with her Pokémon GO Battle League-dedicated Discord community.