Commander Cup Team Guide
8 months ago
Graphic by Mikeiff
Article by PolymersUp
— Introduction —
The team guide is back to help you navigate your platoon to victory in Commander Cup. This guide is based on our understanding of the meta, iterations using PvPoke Team Builder and factoring in tournament usage and performance data compiled by Ytxpikachu and Pokebrains. If you’re interested in better understanding the meta and learning the matchups for Pokémon you should be prepared to face, look out for our Meta Snapshot article and graphic coming soon as well. Lastly if you love discussing Cup metas, come join in on the discussion or get team specific help at GO Stadium and forge new friendships with people as passionate about PvP as you. So let’s get to it!
— Team Guide —
This guide is essentially a team building template, also referred to as a roster archetype. The graphic is broken down into the key meta roles that we expect to see on the majority of well-balanced teams. Commander Cup brings with it some unique team building requirements as every team must have one Commander.
The Fighter role is necessary to cover Dark and Normal types that are otherwise extremely safe here. Escavalier is the sole Commander shown here as Poliwrath doesn’t seem well-positioned in this meta. With so little Fire present, Escavalier is incredibly safe as a Counter user that doesn’t melt to Hypno and can even threaten Toxicroak, one of its better counters, with Drill Run. Toxicroak does much of what Escavalier can do without the Commander price tag, although it’s much worse against the current usage chart topper Hypno. Sudowoodo and Escavalier are two of the best answers to Munchlax in the entire meta, alongside Noctowl and Cradily, due to Counter and their resistance to Munchlax’s Body Slam.
The Anti-Fighting role is necessary primarily to cover Toxicroak, another high usage Pokémon with excellent meat matchups. Hypno dominates this role but teams are often in need of doubling dipping here as there aren’t many checks outside of these options. Jellicent and Alolan Marowak are notable Commanders with decent meta matchups outside of Toxicroak. Noctowl is a strong anti-meta pick for Commander with solid matchups against Munchlax, Toxicroak, Alolan Marowak, Escavalier and others. Froslass is another Pokémon that has a lot of play with energy or shield advantage, while Emolga and Gallade offer slightly different coverage than Noctowl and Hypno.
The Anti-Psychic role centers around Alolan Muk and the Commander Munchlax. Both of these two are so safe with few true counters in the meta. The lack of a Commander price tag on Alolan Muk seems to be giving it the edge in terms of usage as there are a number of other enticing options with the Commander slot. Shiftry and Empoleon give you better answers to Lanturn and Charm, respectively, while Skuntank seems to be currently finishing a distant second to its fellow Dark/Poison. Notably, Empoleon works better here as an Anti-Psychic due to Hypno often running Fire Punch for Escavalier and Ice types and Shadow Ball for the mirror.
The Anti-Froslass role could also be called the anti-Power Snow Alolan Ninetales role. These two Pokémon are quite strong with energy or shield advantage and require a dedicated answer based on the majority of teams we’ve encountered. Charm Alolan Ninetales and Lanturn are the two usage chart toppers in this category. Charm Alolan Ninetales in particular is a threat to teams without a true counter. Lapras is a unique option here with play against Toxicroak, Alolan Marowak and Grass types at the expense of head-to-head matchups within this group. Empoleon is a Commander we see appearing again in this section and the best answer to Charm Ninetales shown here as well. Crustle, Relicanth, and even the unlisted Barbaracle all can leverage their same-type attack boosted Rock damage against these Ice types, but often have the worst Toxicroak matchup of the group.
A first for our Team Guide, we combine the last two slots as Two Coverage Flex picks. With the Flex slot, teams often tilt their coverage in such unique ways to fill any remaining gaps or possibly even bait their opponent into bringing or benching certain Pokémon. In Commander Cup, however, we see so much variety that we instead chose not to suggest a required 5th role. Some potential options are Escavalier checks (Alolan Marowak, Roserade, Hypno), Generalists (Alolan Ninetales, Lapras, Raichu, Alolan Raichu, Ampharos), Anti-Water/Electric (Shiftry, Cradily, Venusaur), or Anti-Charm (Empoleon, Venusaur, Cradily). All of these are solid options depending on how you want to shift your team’s coverage.
— Final Thoughts —
Commander Cup is a fun and unique meta where otherwise ineligible Pokémon based on typing are grouped into a single slot to compete for the honor of serving your team as the Commander. Check out the Meta Development Notes for more details on how the Silph Meta Team went about designing this Cup. As referenced throughout the article, the core Commander team seems to be built around Toxicroak, Hypno, Alolan Muk, and Alolan Ninetales/Lanturn. Those four are so exceptional in their roles that they have risen to the top of this meta. Importantly, the Commander role is quite competitive with multiple viable options, some more meta while others more anti-meta in their role. Keep in mind, however, it’s still very early on, and we could see more than one shift as the meta settles. Best of luck in your tournaments!