Winning With Wooper: A Guide to Challenge Cup

By NfskMjmMal. Art by ZapDraws.
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Competitive battling isn't all about selecting the proper move on Choice Band Terrakion and watching it mow through things, or frustrating your opponent's physical attackers with a Cofagrigus. Wouldn't it be nice sometimes to battle with and against derpy, extremely unconventional Pokémon with crazy movesets? Welcome to Challenge Cup, a versatile metagame in which you can get any Pokémon with any moves and have to figure out what to do with them. For those who are unfamiliar, I'll explain in full detail what Challenge Cup is, the mechanics of how it works, and many strategies that will help you win, because after all, you're going to have to find some way to beat that Palkia with some of those Neverused and Little Cup Pokémon you pulled.

How does Challenge Cup work?

Unlike what you're used to, in Challenge Cup, you don't choose your team. From the entire list of Pokémon, you're given six random, unique Pokémon. Yes, it is possible to get Geodude, Graveler, and Golem on the same team. Each Pokémon is given an item, chosen at random from the comprehensive list of items that have some effect in battle. So, your Wooper, who is not weak to Steel, can be given a Babiri Berry, which halves the damage from one super effective Steel-type attack. The moves are also completely randomized. From the list of all of the moves that a Pokémon can possibly know, by means of leveling-up, TMs, HMs, Move Tutors, or anything else, four are chosen at random and given to each Pokémon. Qualities such as nature, EVs, IVs, gender, and happiness are also randomized. If a Pokémon can possibly have more than one ability, the ability it has is chosen at random too, because they know we all love Truant Durant. The only thing that is not random is the Pokemon's level, which is based off of the Pokémon's base stat total. The higher the base stat total a Pokémon has, the lower the level it will be. This serves to help even out the field between Pokémon with significantly different strengths, which means that Sunkern's chance of beating Lugia has risen from 'pretty much zero' to 'approximately zero'.

Common moves in Challenge Cup

Even though all moves are randomized, you can still expect to see somewhat of a pattern because of uneven move distribution throughout the sea of all Pokémon. Because an enormous percentage of Pokémon can learn Rain Dance or Sunny Day, you will often get at least one Pokémon that knows a weather-summoning move (Sandstorm and Hail aren't nearly as common). There are also many damaging moves that are extremely common. Nearly everything can learn Return and Frustration, and other very common moves are things like Facade, Secret Power, Hyper Beam, Giga Impact, and Round. Because Pokémon tend to learn more STAB moves than moves in other types, and due to the widespread distribution of many Normal-type attacks, it's not a terrible idea to assume that your opponent's Pokémon have a STAB and a Normal-type attack. This sometimes isn't true because there are so many horrible, non-damaging moves that your opponent could have, but just because Challenge Cup sets are honestly pretty stupid a lot of the time, you can't send in whatever you want and expect your opponent to not be able to hurt you that badly. You also have to think about how vast an opponent's movepool is. A Mewtwo can learn attacks from basically every type, so you can't just send in a Dark-type and assume you'll be okay. Alternatively, Pokémon like Luvdisc are pretty easy to predict. If you've noticed that pretty much all of the common moves are Normal-type, however, it won't be a surprise that sometimes one or maybe multiple of your opponent's Pokémon won't be able to touch a Ghost-type and will do very minimal damage to Rock- or Steel-types. Additionally, there are some other fairly universal moves that don't cause direct damage which are seen more often, such as Rest, Protect, Substitute, Toxic, Swagger, Attract, and Double Team. Yes, at least on Pokemon Showdown!, there is no Evasion Clause in Challenge Cup. Yes, you can utilize it, and yes, I will talk about it later because for some reason, Double Team fits very well in the next section of this article.

Effective moves in Challenge Cup

Since your Pokémon can literally have the worst moves imaginable, you're going to have to redefine what you think of as an effective move.

Which Pokémon are good?

When it gets down to it, even though Pokémon with higher BSTs are at lower levels, Pokémon with higher BSTs and/or Pokémon in higher tiers are better than lower tier or unevolved Pokémon. Fully evolved, high tier Pokémon's stats, even at a lower level, are superior to those of Little Cup Pokémon. Although you definitely shouldn't count first stage evolution Pokémon out, your "weapon" Pokémon will generally be those legendaries and other similarly powerful Pokémon. Additionally, hyper-offensive Pokémon are usually more threatening than walls. In the normal metagames, walls often rely on recovery and status, as well as moves like Seismic Toss to inflict reasonable damage. If a stall Pokémon has none of those three, which is very possible in Challenge Cup, it loses a lot of its potency. Those suited towards offense, like Thundurus-T, don't suffer as much in Challenge Cup because even if the moves aren't as strong, they can still dish out a lot of damage. Of course, how good a Pokémon is in Challenge Cup isn't absolutely based on its tier or its BST, but generally, when you're looking through your team, if you see a powerful Pokémon with at least one good move, even though its level is in the 60s, it'll probably put in a lot of work for you.

What about other really good Pokémon that aren't so high-tiered or legendary? There is one at the very bottom that, not surprisingly, is a real threat in Challenge Cup: Shedinja. Since its BST is so low, it's level 95, similar to many first-stage evolutions. The immense lack of versatility in move type makes Shedinja able to wall many things, and for a Pokémon at level 95, it's got an insane Attack stat. Plus, if your opponent switches out, it's pretty obvious what the Pokémon they switched in is going to do. Ditto is another interesting one. Fortunately, it's a high level 90, so even though it has a terrible HP stat, in Challenge Cup you could actually find a Pokémon with a lower HP stat than it and gain an advantage. Obviously, these two are rare and circumstantial, and overall, it just comes down to luck and what moves you pull in determining which Pokémon are threatening or not.

Battling Strategy

Before you can battle well, you have to know your own sets and items, right? As obvious as it is, this step is something that people occasionally forget to do. You don't want to use Protect to scout for a dangerous move and then realize your Pokémon has Choice Specs. Generally, you need to know right from the get-go which Pokémon on your team are weapons, which are dead weight, and which are okay. Playing more Challenge Cup will help you get a better sense for whether a Pokémon is a weapon or not, but look for some of the effective moves I talked about above when scanning your team for Pokémon that could potentially carry your team, because believe me, some of your other Pokémon will need a whole lot of carrying. Breloom with Seed Bomb and three stupid moves? That's a weapon. An Umbreon that has Toxic and Moonlight? That's the jackpot, unless of course you're playing the dude who somehow has four Steel and Poison Pokémon, but you get the idea. About 5% of the time, your held item is actually useful—often times you get a Berry you've never heard or something—so keep your eyes out for Pokémon with good items that will make them more of a threat. And by useful, I mean it actually does something. ~95% of the time the held item literally doesn't do anything good.

The whole point is that you need to keep your weapons safe if at all possible. Don't let them take any more damage than they have to. Again, it's not that uncommon for you to pull a Pokémon that cannot do any damage nor inflict any volatile statuses. You might think those Pokémon are absolutely useless, but one of the best things you can do with them is use them as pivot switches to keep your weapons safe. After all, your opponent shouldn't assume that your dead weight Pokémon can't do anything to them. If he or she does realize that, you can pivot out to one of your okay Pokémon or just fodder off the dead weight Pokémon to prevent anything else from taking any unnecessary damage.

Looking at your opponent's team, it's also your job to figure out which Pokémon of theirs are weapons. Like always, alarms should go off in your head when you see someone hit you with something deadly. Think about why they used a certain move in a situation. Does their Pokémon not have anything better to hit you with? Figure out which of their Pokémon have better physical or special attacks, because unlike in standard, it's not obvious. Then, you can send in your physical or special 'walls' accordingly. Additionally, at least on Pokemon Showdown!, your opponent doesn't know which Pokémon you have until you send them in. Remember which Pokémon of yours your opponent has seen so you can surprise him/her.

Like in all forms of battling, regular psychological and prediction aspects apply. What's your opponent's playstyle? Can you figure out how to predict their moves? Do they predict your moves? Do they switch a lot? It's always important to figure out these kinds of things, opening the door for opportunities to perhaps use an elusive boosting move safely or double switching out into another threat or what-have-you. The key difference between Challenge Cup and regular battling is having a sense of how good or bad your average Challenge Cup Pokémon is so you can realize what your weapons are and how to keep them safe.


Challenge Cup is an awesome, fun, and different form of battling that everyone should try. It's a nice change from regular battling and in some ways tests different skills. How would you go about winning with a Wooper? Did you get a lucky Wooper that can deal good damage with Surf? Did you get a horrible one that is only used for pivot switching between your better Pokémon? It's a fun and exciting challenge, and hopefully I've inspired you to play and given you some tips on how to improve. Now go out there and just have a blast! Some of the funniest and stupidest moments can happen in Challenge Cup. It's up to you to experience them and enjoy them.

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