The Pokemon Go Master League has returned and lets trainers test their mettle using some of the strongest ‘mon in the entire game. While other formats, like Great and Ultra League, are based on the CP of Pokemon the Master League does away with that restriction allowing for any ‘mon to be used in PVP battles. While this gives trainers a larger variety of Pokemon to choose from, it also makes countering teams more difficult as you’ll have to account for more species than in any other format.
With that said, there are some standout Master League Pokemon that trainers will definitely want to consider and invest in. Many of these Pokemon are Legendaries, but there are some outliers that can still hold their own.
Here’s a handy guide to some of the best Pokemon in the Master League including what moves to use and which Pokemon to watch out for in Pokemon Go.
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Weakness: Dark, Ghost, Electric, Ice, Rock
Lugia has been a great option for the Master League for quite some time, but the emergence of an exclusive attack makes it even better.
The Johto Legendary Pokemon has great bulk and a variety of different attack types that makes Lugia great against a myriad of different Pokemon. Trainers can use either of Lugia’s Fast Attacks to great effect. Extransensory is weaker, but charges a bit more energy than the other option and takes advantage of Lugia’s STAB.
Dragon Tail, the second option, has more base power but charges less energy but not by much. As both attacks have the same attack speed, trainers may want to use Dragon Tail as it isn’t resisted by many Pokemon. In fact, Dragon Tail is great against many of the Dragons trainers will encounter in the Master League format like Garchomp.
As for its Charged Attack, the new exclusive move Aeroblast is a must. Not only is it Lugia’s most powerful option, not even taking into account STAB, but it boosts the Pokemon’s attack stat by two stages after using. This boost will allow Lugia to steamroll through your opponent’s team after just one use.
If you weren’t able to catch the special Lugia when it appeared in Raids recently, you can use an Elite Charged TM to get the move.
Spend the candy on unlocking Lugia’s second Charged Attack and use Hydro Pump to give the Pokemon some coverage against any Rock types that may try and take it down.
Weakness: Water, Ice, Grass
Groudon is another bulky Legendary that trainers should consider for their Master League teams. While it may not have the best defensive typing, it’s offensive typing allows it to hit some of the strongest Pokemon in the format including the ever-dangerous Dialga.
For its Fast Attack, Mud Shot is the way to go. Not only does it benefit from Groudon’s STAB, but it generates energy faster than its other option Dragon Tail.
Groudon’s Charged Attacks are not as varied as some of the other Legendaries in the format, but what it has it uses well. Fire Punch is an amazing Charged Attack that not only hits Ice and Grass types--two of the three types Groudon is weak to--but it doesn’t take much energy to pull off allowing for trainers to make opponents waste their shields and to chip away at Pokemon.
The other Charged Attack option trainers will want to utilize is Earthquake. It may take a bit of energy to use, but it can easily one-shot many of the Steel types you’ll run into like the aforementioned Dialga and Melmetal.
Weakness: Fighting, Ground
Dialga is one of the most common Pokemon you'll come up against in the Pokemon Go Master League, largely due to its typing and moveset. Steel is resistant to a lot of the types you'll encounter, especially Fairy-type attacks, while Dragon is strong against well, other Dragon-types. Dialga is also one of the highest CP Pokemon you can get with a ceiling of 4,038 CP, placing it in the top 10.
When it comes to moves, Dragon Breath should be your top choice for the fast move thanks to dealing four damage per turn (DPT) and generating three energy per turn (EPT), while you have the choice of Iron Head or Draco Meteor when it comes to the charged move. Iron Head requires much less energy to use, whereas Draco Meteor deals 150 damage per use. The only downside is that Draco Meteor debuffs Dialga's attack stat by two stages after each time you use it, so you should only be using Draco Meteor to finish off a battle.
Giratina (Origin preferred, Altered if not)
Weakness: Dark, Dragon, Ghost, Ice, Fairy
There's one key reason Giratina (Origin forme) is preferred over the Altered variant, and that's simply because it has a higher max CP. It can go up to 3,683 as opposed to 3,379 for Altered, which can be a crucial difference in a league where there is no CP limits. Just like how Giratina stomps the Ultra League, it is an incredibly powerful force here too, with its main weaknesses being types you'll rarely come up against.
If you have the Origin Forme, Shadow Claw is the preferred Fast Move over Dragon Tail because it generates energy faster. For its Charge Attack, Giratina Origin Forme should have Dragon Pulse to deal with other Dragons and Ominous Wind, which isn’t resisted by many Pokemon. Trainers could also get lucky and get a boost from Ominous Wind to really give Giratina the bulk and offensive power to lead them to victory.
Trainers who have to use Altered Forme can use either Dragon Breath or Shadow Claw as its Fast Move. However, its Charged Moves leave a little be desired. Dragon Pulse is a great option that can hit just about any Pokemon while Ancient Power is an option for trainers who want to try and get a boost like Ominous Wind does for Origin Forme. Otherwise, Shadow Sneak is a good STAB option.
Weakness: Poison, Steel, Electric, Ice, Rock
Another Ultra League competitor that excels in Master League, Togekiss may not have the highest CP potential at 3,332, but it is favoured in a lot of the type matchups you'll face off against. It is excellent against Giratina and Dialga thanks to its double Dragon-type resistance, plus Giratina is weak to Fairy types. However, trainers will want to worry about Dialga who use Steel-type attacks as Togekiss will struggle against it.
When it comes to moves, Charm is a must-have. It is the second-best fast move in the game in terms of DPT and while it doesn't have great EPT, this shouldn't be a problem since it's mainly used to counter the two legendaries. Despite the nerf to Ancient Power, it's still a great charged move choice for Togekiss, while it should be complimented with Aerial Ace. Flamethrower and Dazzling Gleam are your other two options, but both require too much energy to be viable with Charm as the fast move. However, if you want an option to take on Steel types, Flamethrower will be the way to go.
Weakness: Fire, Ground, Ghost, Dark
Metagross has become one the best Pokemon to lead with in the Master League format. Its Steel typing makes it resistant to many popular types including Dragon and Fairy attacks, and it's diverse and powerful move pool makes it a great ‘mon to take into battle.
Bullet Punch is the best Fast Move to use as it damages every Pokemon, aside from Water, Electric and other Steel types, and gives Metagross the best option to gain energy fast. Zen Headbutt is an interesting option if you want to hit a bit harder with your Fast Move, but you’ll sacrifice speed and energy gain using it.
As for Metagross’ Charged Move options there is one choice that every trainer needs to have. Meteor Mash is Metagross’ Community Day exclusive move and gives the pseudo legendary a powerful Steel-type move that deals requires substantially less energy to use. If you missed out on the Community Day back in 2018, an Elite Charged TM will teach Metagross Meteor Mash.
If you’re looking for a second Charged Attack, Psychic is a great option that is close in power and energy requirement as Meteor Mash but has the added chance to lower your opponent’s Defense. However, we suggest bringing Earthquake into battles in the Master League. The Ground-type move may need more energy than Meteor Mash and Psychic, but it delivers the most power of any of Metagross’ attack options. It also has the added benefit of taking out Fire types and other Steel types that you may come across.
Weakness: Electric, Grass
Another legendary to add to the list but this time, it's one that has been available fairly frequently. Kyogre isn't the best counter to popular choices like Dialga and Giratina, but it can perform spectacularly against some of the other popular Pokemon you'll come up against like Snorlax, Togekiss, and Heatran.
Moveset wise, Waterfall is on everyone's Kyogre because that's the only fast move it can know (Dragon Tail was removed shortly before the Pokemon was released). That's not necessarily a bad thing because it sports 4 DPT, but only 2.66 EPT. When it comes to charged moves, Surf is vital because it has a low energy cost and deals impressive damage. Blizzard can be favoured as an alternative because it's strong against Dragon-types, but it has a high energy cost and is a waste of a move if it hits a shield. Thunder can also be considered because it costs less than Blizzard, but isn't as favourable when it comes to typing.
Weakness: Bug, Dark, Ghost
Did you know Mewtwo's highest CP is 4,178? This puts it in the top five highest potential CP Pokemon at the time of writing (there's some debate on its exact placement in the top five) and attack is by far its strongest stat. It also has a significantly varied moveset… when it comes to charged moves anyway.
Psycho Cut needs to be your choice for fast move. It has less damage than Confusion, but has the second highest energy generation in the game with 4.5 EPT. Now when it comes to charged moves, prepare yourself because there's a lot of different options. Flamethrower, Ice Beam, and Thunderbolt are all vastly different typed moves that can be useful in a pinch, but you'll want to combine them with one of either Psystrike or Shadow Ball. Psystrike was exclusive to the legendary raid hour back in October 2019, while Shadow Ball is a legacy move and is no longer able to be learned. If you do have one of them though, then you're in luck. If you don't I'd recommend opting for something other than Mewtwo, because Focus Blast is the next best move and isn't particularly great.
Weakness: Ice, Rock, Fairy, Dragon
Thanks to it being around since the very start of the game, every long-term player should have a Dragonite by this point. Its strength against other Dragon-types is killer and it just misses out on the top 10 highest CP with a max of 3,792.
You'll want to go all-in on the Dragon-type moves, so opt for Dragon Breath as the fast one. 4 DPT and 3 EPT make it an excellent choice thanks to Dragonite's attack stats. Dragon Claw should be one of your charged move options too because it has a low energy requirement and you can dish out the damage frequently. For the other charged move (if you have two), you can choose between Outrage and Draco Meteor. The former has 110 power compared to the latter's 150, but is slightly cheaper and doesn't have Draco Meteor's attack debuff after use. Outrage would be my pick, unless you need a definitive closer, which Draco Meteor is best at.
Weakness: Ice, Dragon, Fairy
Garchomp is one of the rarest non-legendary Pokemon in the game thanks to the elusive nature of Gible, but if you've got your hands on a decent one, put it to use in the Master League. Dragon-type again makes it strong against all the other Dragon-types in the meta, while the secondary Ground-type makes it strong against multiple, including Poison, Rock, and Electric-types.
Mud Shot has to be your top choice for Garchomp's fast move because it has top tier energy gain at 4.5 EPT. That's vital when you consider how expensive the two options for charged moves are; Earthquake and Outrage. Both are high power, medium cost, so Garchomp is absolutely brutal when closing a match out. If you have two charged move slots but you're missing one of the above, Sand Tomb can also be used.
Weakness: Fighting, Fire, Ground
Getting a Melmetal is no easy task because you need to complete the Let's Go, Meltan special research or obtain one from Pokemon Let's Go (all is explained in our how to get Meltan in Pokemon Go guide). You then need 400 candies to evolve it into Melmetal but when you do, you have a tanky Steel-type Pokemon great for use in the Master League.
Thundershock is the only fast move available and thankfully it's not too bad because it generates energy fairly quickly. Rock Slide is the best charged move because it only costs 45 energy to use, while Superpower is our suggestion for the other charged move. The only problem is that, like Draco Meteor, Superpower gives Melmetal a debuff to both attack and defence after usage, meaning it's better at closing out battles. Thunder Shock is also an option if you want extra Electric-type damage.
Snorlax is a classic, ain't it? As its… *ahem* size would imply, Snorlax is a defensive beast, helped by the fact it only has one major weakness which isn't particularly popular in the Master League meta. The downside is that as a Normal-type, it's not got any type advantages either.
Lick should always be your choice for Snorlax's fast move; it has 3 DPT and EPT which is solid, plus the other options are not great at all. There's a lot of choice with the charged moves though; Body Slam is the best at shield baiting if you're using Snorlax as an opener, while Earthquake is strong against Steel-type Pokemon. Then there's Superpower which is slightly cheaper than Earthquake but does a similar job. Finally, if you're lacking in Dragon-type moves elsewhere in your team, go for Outrage.
Type: Dark Weakness: Bug, Fairy, Fighting
Another legendary Pokemon to finish things off, Darkrai is absolutely excellent against Giratina. It's resistant to Ghost-type moves while Giratina is weak to Dark-type ones, making it a wonderful counter. Just make sure you don't use Darkrai against Togekiss because it won't go well.
Snarl is the top choice for the fast move since Feint Attack isn't very good at all, then you definitely want Dark Pulse for one of your charged moves. The second charged move is debatable; Shadow Ball can deal with some popular choices in Master League since it is a Ghost-type move, while Focus Blast is an expensive choice but sees off other types like Steel, Normal, and Rock, which Shadow Ball can't do much about.
That's it for our guide to the Pokemon Go Master League meta; if it changes significantly we'll be sure to update this guide with some fresh choices. Good luck in the Battle League, trainer!