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[Analysis] Shadow Pokemon Tier List as Raid Attackers (PvE): Which ones to un-Frustrate and invest in?

March 25, 2023 - Teban54
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Teban54
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TL;DR

This infographic, in collaboration with @thepokegohunter, serves as our TL;DR for today!

Shadow Tier List Infographic (credit to ThePokeGoHunter)

Altenatively, here’s the tier list in text form:

  • Tier 1: Mamoswine (ice), Salamence / Dragonite, Metagross, Machamp
  • Tier 2: Mewtwo (psychic), Swampert, Moltres (flying), Mamoswine (ground), Raikou / Electivire / Magnezone, Tyranitar (rock), Weavile / Mewtwo (ice)
  • Tier 3: Moltres / Apex Ho-Oh / Entei / Blaziken, Gardevoir, Hariyama, Zapdos, Latios (dragon)
  • Tier 4: Weavile / Tyranitar / Mewtwo (dark-ghost), Charizard, Luxray, Tangrowth / Sceptile / Venusaur, Feraligatr / Gyarados, Metagross (psychic)
  • Tier 5: Pinsir / Scizor, Apex Lugia / Ho-Oh / Honchkrow / Staraptor (flying)
  • Tier 6: Houndoom / Honchkrow (dark), Typhlosion / Arcanine / Magmortar, Torterra, Golurk, Latios (psychic), Alakazam, Aerodactyl / Aggron (rock)
  • Tier 7: Mewtwo (electric), Gardevoir / Gallade (psychic), Exeggutor, Granbull, Latias (dragon)

Keep reading for:

  • Why use shadows?
  • Mythbusters (not as expensive as you thought…)
  • Links to charts with rankings of each type
  • Brief points about Shadow Blaziken and Sceptile, in their own sections, before I write a dedicated article for them later
  • Two more interesting lists at the end…

You can now follow me (@teban54) on Twitter!

Introduction

The Rocket Takeover event, which returns once every season, is coming back from Saturday, March 25, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. to Wednesday, March 29, at 8:00 p.m. local time. During this time, you can use a regular Charged TM to remove Frustration from any Shadow Pokemon.

Shadow Pokemon have implications for several aspects of the game. As raid attackers, they’re insanely strong and (almost) strict upgrades over their non-shadow selves. But which ones are stronger and more useful than others?

This article addresses the question that has been floating around very frequently:

Which shadows are “good” for raids?

After a short section that establish the basics, I’ll present a list consisting of 7 tiers, going from the most crucial to borderline options. If you get to the end of this article, you might even get an Easter egg!

Basics: Why Shadows, Mythbusters, and My Methodology

TL:DR:

  • Shadows are 16% better than their own non-shadows at the same level, hence “OP”.
  • However, they’re not a necessity if you just want some decent teams – they’re “premium investments”. A full team of shadows only saves you 5-10 seconds in a group raid.
  • No, Shadow Pokemon are NOT more expensive than their own non-shadows (arguably)!
    • L30 shadows are better and cheaper than their L40 non-shadows
  • No, Shadow Pokemon do NOT faint more often than their own non-shadows!
  • No, a “bad IV” Shadow is NOT useless!
    • IVs “only” make ~7% of difference
  • No, just because a Shadow has higher DPS than a legendary does NOT always mean it performs better!
  • My list considers three main factors: Strength, Utility, and Replaceability.

More details here in screenshots:


Tier 1: Top of its type and very useful

Mamoswine (Ice), Salamence, Dragonite, Metagross (Steel), Machamp

These shadows are at or near the top of their types, and have high utility for raids. They have the highest priority among all shadows.

My recommendations for players who are serious into building raid teams:

  • Up to 6 Shadow Salamence/Dragonite/Mamoswine combined
    • More Shadow Mamoswine if you like
  • Up to 6 Shadow Metagross
  • Up to 6 Terrakion/Shadow Machamp

Shadow Mamoswine (Ice) – Tier 1

  • Strength: 5 / 5
  • Type utility: 4.5 / 5
  • Priority: 5 / 5
  • Moveset: Powder Snow / Avalanche
  • Last available: Still available now

Verdict: Ice-type king, Rayquaza slayer, even stronger than most dragons

Shadow Mamoswine is the absolute best ice attacker, and only Shadow Weavile comes close. This automatically makes it the best counter against several popular bosses that are double weak to ice, such as Rayquaza, Landorus and future Mega Garchomp.

Where Shadow Mamoswine really stands out from its non-shadow is that, because of the shadow boost, it’s also competitive with attackers of other types – even the mighty dragons!

  • Better than all regular dragons, Rayquaza included. Only Shadow Salamence and Shadow Dragonite are better on average, but they’re less consistent. (Chart)
  • Against flying-type bosses, usually better than Shadow Tyranitar. While the electric shadows are better on average, they are not always usable. (Chart)

Don’t forget Shadow Mamoswine is also a great ground attacker, and I rank it as Tier 2 as a ground type. Double move them!

Here’s a chart of all ice-type raid attackers.

Shadow Salamence & Dragonite – Tier 1

  • Strength: 5 / 5
  • Type utility: 4 / 5
  • Priority: 5 / 5
  • Moveset: Dragon Tail / Outrage
    • Outrage on Salamence is a past Community Day (CD) move. It may come back during future events that allow you to get it upon evolution.
    • If you want to unlock a second move, Draco Meteor for Salamence, Dragon Claw for Dragonite.
  • Last available:
    • Salamence: April 2022 (leader), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Dragonite: Still available now, but rare

Verdict: Top dragons by far, rather specialized role

Both of them are top dragon attackers by far, and even put Rayquaza to shame.

The only thing holding them back a little bit is the utility of dragon types. They’re only Super Effective against other dragons, and while there’s a great quantity and quality of dragons among legendaries, it’s still less common than you think. The good news is whenever a dragon is in raids, Shadow Salamence/Dragonite are typically the top counters.

Here’s a chart of all dragon-type raid attackers.

Shadow Metagross (Steel) – Tier 1

  • Strength: 5 / 5
  • Type utility: 3.5 / 5
  • Priority: 5 / 5
  • Moveset: Bullet Punch / Meteor Mash*
    • (*) Meteor Mash is a past CD move. May come back via evolution during future events.
  • Last available: March 2023 (leader), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Top steel of the decade, not as high utility as you may think, but crucial for anti-fairy

Shadow Metagross defines steel types. Unlikely to change until the game dies.

Though I do have to say, just like dragons, steel types’ utility in raids may be lower than you think. How often do you see a rock, ice and fairy boss that’s not useless like Regice and Regirock? My type utility metric ranks both dragon and steel as the middle of the pack, if not leaning towards the lower side.

Regardless, steel is still a generally useful type to have, especially when it’s practically the only counter against fairy bosses like Zacian. And whenever you can use steel, Shadow Metagross dominates the scene. These reasons, combined with its scarcity, are enough to put it solidly in Tier 1.

Here’s a chart of all steel-type raid attackers.

Shadow Machamp – Tier 1

  • Strength: 4 / 5
  • Type utility: 5 / 5
  • Priority: 5 / 5
  • Moveset: Counter / Dynamic Punch
  • Last available: January 2023 (leader), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Outclassed slightly by Terrakion, but still very useful, even in other PvE modes

Arguably the least deserving among Tier 1s, and it’s easy to see why: It’s not sitting at the top of its type by far. Namely, Terrakion has outclassed it.

I still put it here in Tier 1 for a few reasons. For one, Terrakion is a legendary that costs rare candies, so good luck getting 6 of them. Shadow Machamp is also much easier to push to Level 50.

For another, fighting is a very useful type that’s Super Effective against 5 types (Dark, Ice, Normal, Rock, Steel). Shadow Machamp isn’t always the top counter (being weaker than Shadow Metagross and Reshiram etc), but it will likely appear on most people’s teams.

The last reason is what sealed the deal for me: Shadow Machamp is also incredibly useful in other PvE formats outside of raids. In gyms taking down those Blisseys. In Team Rocket battles, with huge Counter damage, Cross Chop to burn shields, and even Close Combat nuke.

Here’s a chart of all fighting-type raid attackers.


Tier 2: Still top-tier or useful, just with a bit of issues

All these are still really good, but with some reasons that stopped them from being Tier 1.

There are three sub-categories here:

  • Top of its type, but limited usage
    • Mewtwo (Psychic), Swampert, Moltres (Flying)
  • Near top of its type, but similar to top non-shadows
    • Mamoswine (Ground), Raikou, Electivire, Magnezone, Tyranitar (Rock)
  • Useful types, but worse than other shadows
    • Weavile (Ice), Mewtwo (Ice)

Shadow Mewtwo (Psychic) – Tier 2

  • Strength: 6 / 5
  • Type utility: 2 / 5
  • Priority: 4 / 5
  • Moveset: Confusion / Psystrike**
    • (**) Psystrike is a past exclusive move. Unlikely to return on shadows, consider ETM.
    • Non-legacy move Psychic is sufficient
  • Last available: January 2023 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Ridiculously OP, but psychic is one of the least useful types

I wrote an entire article dedicated to Shadow Mewtwo.

Yes, nothing ever comes close to Shadow Mewtwo’s raw power. However, this is balanced by psychic being one of the least useful types in raids. There’s Terrakion, but other than that, what do you use Mewtwo against…? Zamazenta? Lol.

That’s why I didn’t recommend burning radars to get 6 Shadow Mewtwo. But if you have one? Absolutely power it up.

Here’s a chart of all psychic-type raid attackers.

Shadow Swampert – Tier 2

  • Strength: 4.5 / 5
  • Type utility: 2 / 5
  • Priority: 4 / 5
  • Moveset: Water Gun / Hydro Cannon*
    • (*) Hydro Cannon is a past CD move. May come back via evolution during future events.
  • Last available: Still available now

Verdict: Top water, better than Kyogre, but water has low utility

Shadow Swampert with HC is indeed still better than Origin Pulse (regular) Kyogre, both in theory and in practice. But water has similar utility issues as psychic: fire, rock and ground bosses are not too common, and in practice, water attackers are almost like anti-Groudon specialists. That’s still a valuable role in itself (especially Primal Groudon), just that a supreme water team is not crucial.

Here’s a chart of all water-type raid attackers.

Shadow Moltres (Flying) – Tier 2

  • Strength: 5 / 5
  • Type utility: 2 / 5
  • Priority: 4 / 5
  • Moveset: Wing Attack / Sky Attack**
    • (**) Sky Attack is a past exclusive move. Unlikely to return on shadows, consider ETM.
  • Last available: May 2021 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Top flying by far, still low utility, but a good specialist against 4 bosses with double weaknesses

Yet another top-of-its-type shadow murdered by low utility. Shadow Moltres is the best flying by far, and except for two Apex Shadows, the next thing below it (in Estimator) is… regular Moltres. But the types flying is good against – bug, grass, fighting – simply don’t have many legendaries.

The saving grace is that 4 T5/Mega bosses are double weak to flying: Virizion, Pheromosa, Buzzwole and Mega Heracross. Shadow Moltres is the top counter against them, by a mile.

Here’s a chart of all flying-type raid attackers.

Shadow Mamoswine (Ground) – Tier 2

  • Strength: 4.5 / 5
  • Type utility: 4 / 5
  • Priority: 4 / 5
  • Moveset: Mud-Slap / High Horsepower
  • Last available: Still available now

Verdict: A hair better than PB Groudon; Ground types have their niche, but may struggle when compared to other types

Shadow Mamoswine vs. Precipice Blades Groudon is an interesting comparison, that I wrote in detail in my Groudon analysis. Shadow Mamoswine “wins” more often, despite horrible typing. But they’re close enough.

The issue with ground is weaker power than other types. Despite being SE against 5 types, in practice Shadow Mamoswine doesn’t really put up with other shadows you can use:

  • = Lucario, < Shadow Machamp
  • < Kyogre & Shadow Swampert
  • < Reshiram & fire-type shadow legendaries (& likely Shadow Blaziken)
  • < Metagross

Despite this, it’s still at least better than non-legendaries, has wide coverage against many bosses, and is the #1-2 counter when you need to use ground (against Raikou, Heatran, Xurkitree, Tapu Koko, Regieleki). And when it can easily double duty as the top ice type, why not?

Here’s a chart of all ground-type raid attackers.

Shadow Raikou, Electivire & Magnezone – Tier 2

  • Strength: Raikou 5/5, Electivire 4.5/5, Magnezone 4/5
  • Type utility: 4 / 5
  • Priority: 4 / 5
  • Moveset:
    • Raikou & Electivire: Thunder Shock / Wild Charge
    • Magnezone: Spark / Wild Charge
  • Last available:
    • Raikou: March 2020 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Electivire: Still available now, but rare
    • Magnezone: March 2023 (leader), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Similar to Xurkitree, ahead of Zekrom, pick the best IVs; electric is useful but not crucial, don’t need 6

At 100% IVs, Shadow Raikou > Xurkitree > Shadow Electivire > Shadow Zapdos > Shadow Magnezone = FB Zekrom, but they’re very, very close and IV-dependent. Zapdos, Magnezone and Zekrom’s unique typings help them on occasions. For people without 6 Xurkitrees, one of these shadows is your next best.

While electric is a strong and useful type, it’s never the only option.

  • Shadow electrics are among the best as anti-flying, but you can also do it with rock and ice. (Chart)
  • Against water, Kartana is better. Electric shadows are still better than all grass shadows. (Chart)

A few shadow electrics will serve you well (especially if you lack Xurkitrees), but whether you want 6 is up for debate.

Here’s a chart of all electric-type raid attackers.

Shadow Tyranitar (Rock) – Tier 2

  • Strength: 4 / 5
  • Type utility: 5 / 5
  • Priority: 4 / 5
  • Moveset: Smack Down* / Stone Edge
    • (*) Smack Down is a past CD move. May come back via evolution during future events, probably December 2023 CD.
  • Last available: Available now (leader), unlikely to come back for a while afterwards

Verdict: Best rock, but barely ahead of Rampardos

Shadow Tyranitar is the best rock attacker holistically, and rock is among the most useful types in raids. The only problem is Rampardos – only barely behind in simulations, even has higher theoretical DPS, and is at least more accessible than “legendaries” like Xurkitree.

As I wrote in CD Tyranitar analysis: Good investment if you get acceptable IVs, but not something to go crazy on.

Here’s a chart of all rock-type raid attackers.

Shadow Weavile & Mewtwo (Ice) – Tier 2

  • Strength: 4 / 5
  • Type utility: 4.5 / 5
  • Priority: 4 / 5
  • Moveset:
    • Weavile: Ice Shard / Avalanche
    • Mewtwo: Psycho Cut / Ice Beam
  • Last available:
    • Weavile: November 2021 (leader), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Mewtwo: January 2023 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Worse than Shadow Mamoswine, still useful

In case you don’t have (enough) Shadow Mamoswine. They’re still better than regular Mamoswine. The main reasons I put them in Tier 2 are the high utility of ice types, and that both can also serve other duties.

Do note that as anti-dragons, both fall to the same level as regular dragons, though likely still more consistent. For this reason, they’re arguably the least deserving of all Tier 2s – some players may treat them as Tier 3 or even Tier 4.


Tier 3: Great, but better options exist

Moltres (Fire), Apex Ho-Oh (Fire), Entei, Blaziken (Fire), Gardevoir (Fairy), Hariyama, Zapdos, Latios (Dragon)

These options are still strong and useful, but outclassed by more powerful attackers, either of their own type or of other types. However, what outclass them are typically legendaries, so players who lack rare candies will still find them as valuable investments (aside from Zapdos and Latios).

Shadow Moltres (Fire), Apex Ho-Oh (Fire), Entei & Blaziken (Fire) – Tier 3

  • Strength: 4 / 5
  • Type utility: 4 / 5
  • Priority: Moltres and Blaziken 4/5, Apex Ho-Oh and Entei 3/5
  • Moveset:
    • Moltres: Fire Spin / Overheat
    • Apex Ho-Oh: Incinerate / Sacred Fire+ (ticket exclusive)
    • Entei: Fire Fang / Overheat
    • Blaziken: Fire Spin / Blast Burn* or Blaze Kick
      • (*) Blast Burn is a past CD move. May come back via evolution during future events.
      • Blaze Kick does surprisingly well – see below.
  • Last available:
    • Moltres: May 2021 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Apex Ho-Oh: February 2022 (Paid ticket), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Entei: July 2020 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Blaziken: Still available now

Verdict: Worse than Fusion Flare Reshiram, but not by too much

These would have been Tier 2 if Fusion Flare hadn’t been introduced. They’re still better than anything that’s not FF Reshiram, and fire is a useful type, but FF Reshiram is better than even 100% IV shadows. For anyone without 6 Reshiram, they’re still good investments for a full fire team, especially Shadow Blaziken that doesn’t cost rare candies.

Regarding Shadow Blaziken, I’ll write its own article, but here are some preliminary results:

  • L40 Shadow Blaziken <= L40 Shadow Moltres (15/15/15) < L40 FF Reshiram.
  • On most occasions, L40 S-Blaziken > L40 Overheat Reshiram.
  • L40 S-Blaziken > L30 FF Reshiram. Likewise, probably L50 S-Blaziken > L40 FF Reshiram.
  • Blaze Kick is surprisingly good – a small best-case dropoff from Blast Burn, but much more consistent and avoids some of the horrible situations. In fact, Blaze Kick has even better ASE and ASTTW than Blast Burn! If you can’t wait to evolve, I wouldn’t ETM it, unless you have too many ETMs.

Here’s a chart of all fire-type raid attackers, with Shadow Blaziken included.

Shadow Gardevoir (Fairy) – Tier 3

  • Strength: 3 / 5
  • Type utility: 3 / 5
  • Priority: 3.5 / 5
  • Moveset: Charm / Dazzling Gleam
  • Last available: Still available now

Verdict: Best fairy by far, “only” similar to regular dragons, but more consistent

Another top of its type by far with no competition, but outside of Guzzlord raids, fairy attackers have lower power than alternative types you can use. The best scenario is against dragon (Chart), where Shadow Gardevoir is similar to regular dragon types (like Rayquaza and Salamence), but more consistent and doesn’t fear dragon charged moves from the boss. Having one or two is very valuable, but not necessarily 6 of them.

For a more thorough analysis of Shadow Gardevoir vs other types, see my Mega Gardevoir analysis.

Here’s a chart of all fairy-type raid attackers.

Shadow Hariyama – Tier 3

  • Strength: 3 / 5
  • Type utility: 5 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset: Counter / Dynamic Punch
  • Last available: Still available now

Verdict: Worse than Terrakion and Shadow Machamp, still better than non-shadows

Being outclassed by an OP legendary isn’t a fatal blow, but it’s also below Shadow Machamp, and not significantly above Lucario and Conkeldurr. It still got a spot in Tier 3 largely due to being common and fighting types’ high utility, though even that is up for debate. Some may think it’s ranked too high.

Shadow Zapdos – Tier 3

  • Strength: 4.5 / 5
  • Type utility: 4 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset: Thunder Shock** / Thunderbolt
    • (**) Thunder Shock is a past exclusive move. Unlikely to return on shadows, consider ETM.
  • Last available: June 2021 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Similar to Shadow Magnezone if with good IVs, worse than Xurkitree

This would have been in Tier 2 together with Shadow Raikou, Electivire and Magnezone, if it wasn’t a quantity-limited shadow legendary, likely has bad IVs, requires an Elite Fast TM and rare candies, and still ends up worse than Xurkitree. It’s an excellent variety pick, but Shadow Magnezone is a better bang for buck, and Xurkitree and Fusion Bolt Zekrom are both better uses of rare candies.

Shadow Latios (Dragon) – Tier 3

  • Strength: 4 / 5
  • Type utility: 4 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset: Dragon Breath / Dragon Claw
  • Last available: November 2022 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Worse than Shadow Salamence/Dragonite, still better than non-shadows

Not bad by any means, as it’s still above Rayquaza and all regular dragons… Just that Shadow Salamance and Dragonite exist. Great for Unique 6 users, but otherwise likely not worth the rare candies.


Tier 4: Moderately outclassed

These options can still put in good work if you do power them up, but they’re either outclassed by something affordable, or way below better options. Good if you already had them, but I’d think twice before building new ones.

Specifically, there are three cases:

  • Very useful type, but outclassed by CD Pokemon
    • Weavile (Dark), Tyranitar (Dark), Mewtwo (Ghost)
  • Outclassed by legendaries by far
    • Charizard, Luxray, Tangrowth, Sceptile, Venusaur
  • Limited usage, and still outclassed by legendaries and other shadows
    • Feraligatr, Gyarados, Metagross (Psychic)

Shadow Weavile (Dark), Tyranitar (Dark) & Mewtwo (Ghost) – Tier 4

  • Strength: 4 / 5
  • Type utility: 5 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset:
    • Weavile: Snarl / Foul Play
    • Tyranitar: Bite / Crunch
    • Mewtwo: Psycho Cut / Shadow Ball** (Past exclusive move. Unlikely to return on shadows, consider ETM.)
  • Last available:
    • Weavile: November 2021 (leader), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Tyranitar: Available now (leader), unlikely to come back for a while afterwards
    • Mewtwo: January 2023 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Top dark/ghost and very useful, but too similar to CD Hydreigon, not worth building now

I feel really sorry for these guys. They are still top-tier dark and ghost attackers, which are among the most useful types in raids, and would have been solid Tier 1s… Except CD Hydreigon is just as good, perhaps even better, at much lower cost.

Anyone who already built them will still get good use out of them, but I would not recommend powering up new ones solely for these roles now (at least not multiples). Nor do I recommend ETMing Shadow Ball.

Shadow Weavile is the one that may stand out a bit. Due to its high DPS, a 100% IV one does outperform Hydreigon majority of the time, but its fragility and bad typing makes it less consistent. It’s also a great ice type (Tier 2).

Here’s a chart of all dark and ghost-type raid attackers.

Shadow Charizard – Tier 4

  • Strength: 3.5 / 5
  • Type utility: 4 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset: Fire Spin / Blast Burn*
    • (*) Blast Burn is a past CD move. May come back via evolution during future events.
  • Last available: May be available this rotation? Last time was November 2022 (leader)

Verdict: Worse than Reshiram, shadow legendaries and Shadow Blaziken

Already had trouble overcoming Overheat Reshiram back in the days despite higher DPS, and now even L30 Fusion Flare Reshiram > L40 Shadow Charizard. It stayed as the best non-legendary for a long time, but now Shadow Blaziken outclasses it too (even with Blaze Kick). Not useless at all, but lots of better options now.

Shadow Luxray – Tier 4

  • Strength: 3 / 5
  • Type utility: 4 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset: Spark / Wild Charge
  • Last available: Still available now

Verdict: Worse than Xurkitree, Zekrom and other shadow electrics

Tier 4 actually somewhat underrepresents its power: it’s not too far behind other shadows like Electivire and Magnezone, and L40 Shadow Luxray > L30 Xurkitree still. But it suffers from oversaturation of choices above it.

Shadow Tangrowth, Sceptile & Venusaur – Tier 4

  • Strength: 3 / 5
  • Type utility: 3 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset:
    • Tangrowth: Vine Whip / Power Whip
    • Sceptile: Bullet Seed / Frenzy Plant*
    • Venusaur: Vine Whip / Frenzy Plant*
    • (*) Frenzy Plant is a past CD move. May come back via evolution during future events.
  • Last available:
    • Tangrowth: January 2022 (grunt), may come back in future
    • Sceptile: Still available now
    • Venusaur: Still available now (?)

Verdict: Top grass below Kartana, but even L30 Kartana outclasses them, and can’t compare to shadows of other types

These used to be the best grass types before Kartana. Even though they’re still the top non-legendaries, not only is Level 30 Kartana better (only 66 candies), but they also sit below shadows of competitor types:

  • Against rock & ground: < Shadow Swampert (Chart)
  • Against water: < Shadow Electivire and Magnezone (Chart)

Unless it’s sunny or a T5 Groudon has Solar Beam, there are better things to spend your dust on.

Regarding Shadow Sceptile, I’ll write its own article, but here are some preliminary results:

  • L40 Shadow Sceptile < L30 Kartana.
  • I consider Shadow Sceptile as similar to Shadow Tangrowth at best, arguably even worse. It beats S-Tangrowth 34% of the time in estimator and 55% in TTW, while being less consistent.
  • Shadow Sceptile > Shadow Venusaur, generally, though still less consistent.
  • Leaf Blade is too much of a dropoff from Frenzy Plant, and makes Shadow LB Sceptile worse than all other top shadows.

Here’s a chart of all grass-type raid attackers.

Shadow Feraligatr & Gyarados – Tier 4

  • Strength: 4 / 5
  • Type utility: 2 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset:
    • Feraligatr: Waterfall (or Water Gun**) / Hydro Cannon*
      • (*) Hydro Cannon is a past CD move. May come back via evolution during future events.
      • (**) Water Gun is better than Waterfall, but it’s a legacy move. Unlikely to return on shadows, consider ETM.
    • Gyarados: Waterfall / Hydro Pump
      • Aqua Tail is a good second move, but it’s a past CD move.
  • Last available: Both are still available now

Verdict: Worse than Shadow Swampert, too similar to Origin Pulse Kyogre, water has low utility

If any of these three factors were missing, they would have been higher. Shadow Feraligatr (Waterfall) is very similar to Origin Pulse Kyogre depending on metric, and Shadow Gyarados is generally below.

While Shadow Gyarados is exceptionally good for Groudon raids, neither are high priority picks otherwise. Better off building Shadow Swamperts.

Shadow Metagross (Psychic) – Tier 4

  • Strength: 3 / 5
  • Type utility: 2 / 5
  • Priority: 3 / 5
  • Moveset: Zen Headbutt / Psychic
  • Last available: March 2023 (leader), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Gread psychic type, but well below L30 regular Mewtwo

You’re forgiven if you hadn’t thought of Metagross as a psychic attacker before. In fact, it’s the best non-legendary psychic type. If you don’t have 6 L30+ Mewtwos built, double move your Meteor Mash ones for Naganadel and Eternatus raids… And that’s it.


Tier 5: Types with limited usage

Pinsir, Scizor (Bug), Apex Shadow Lugia, Shadow Ho-Oh (Flying), Shadow Honchkrow (Flying), Shadow Staraptor

Bug and flying types, basically. They both have low utility, the former due to low power, and the latter due to too few bosses. There are niche raids where they may shine, so don’t trash them, but focus on building others first.

Shadow Pinsir & Scizor (Bug) – Tier 5

  • Strength: 2 / 5
  • Type utility: 3 / 5
  • Priority: 2 / 5
  • Moveset:
    • Pinsir: Bug Bite or Fury Cutter / X-Scissor
    • Scizor: Fury Cutter / X-Scissor
  • Last available: October 2021 (Jessie & James), unlikely to come back for a while

Verdict: Best bug for now, but too weak to be useful

If you powered them up for Hoopa Unbound raids, congratulations! You used them in the only T5+ raid in history that bug is good against.

Shadow Pinsir and Scizor are tied as the top bug attackers, until Volcarona arrives. The problem is they’re way too weak. Even though bug is Super Effective against many psychic bosses, they’re only as good as regular Weavile (Chart).

There are a few bosses in the future that bug types shine due to double weaknesses, specifically Zarude (another popular Elite Raid candidate), Calyrex, Brute Bonnet and Iron Leaves. Still, it’s very low priority, and we may get Volcarona by then.

If you still have a Shadow Scyther: Keep it unevolved. Shadow Kleavor has potential to be better than Shadow Scizor, if it becomes a thing.

Here’s a chart of all bug-type raid attackers.

Apex Lugia, Ho-Oh (Flying), Honchkrow (Flying) & Staraptor – Tier 5

  • Strength: Apex Lugia and Ho-Oh 4/5, Honchkrow and Staraptor 3/5
  • Type utility: 2 / 5
  • Priority: Ho-Oh 3/5, others 2/5
  • Moveset:
    • Apex Lugia: Extrasensory / Aeroblast+ (ticket exclusive)
    • Ho-Oh: Incinerate or Extrasensory / Brave Bird
      • Hidden Power Flying is better if yours has it
    • Honchkrow: Peck / Sky Attack
    • Staraptor: Gust* / Brave Bird
      • (*) Gust is a past CD move. May come back via evolution during future events, probably December 2023 CD.
      • Non-legacy move Wing Attack is sufficient
  • Last available:
    • Apex Lugia: February 2022 (Paid ticket), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Ho-Oh: February 2022 (Paid ticket) and August 2021 (Giovanni), unlikely to come back for a while
    • Honchkrow: Still available now
    • Staraptor: January 2023 (grunt), may come back in future

Verdict: All great flying types, but low utility outside of 4 bosses

Everything here is equal or better than regular Moltres as a flying attacker (Shadow Honchkrow and Staraptor have worse estimator but better TTW). The main problem is not strength, but lack of utility. As of now, they’re essentially specialists for Virizion, Pheromosa, Buzzwole and Mega Heracross. They’ll see some uses, but don’t expect to bring them out often.


Tier 6: Outclassed, not worth the shadow cost

These options are below many other shadows, legendaries and sometimes even non-legendaries of their types. If you love variety, love these specific Pokemon, or have them built for another role, they can still do some work. But if you’re just looking for a good team, I would probably never suggest powering them up from scratch.

[Dark] Houndoom, Honchkrow

  • Way below Hydreigon, just above Chandelure

[Fire] Typhlosion, Arcanine, Magmortar

  • Similar to Darmanitan & Chandelure (Shadow Typhlosion is marginally better)

[Grass] Torterra

  • Just below other grass shadows (Tangrowth, Sceptile, Venusaur)

[Ground] Golurk

  • Similar to Garchomp or just slightly above, way worse than Shadow Mamoswine

[Psychic] Latios, Alakazam

  • Way worse than Mewtwo, above or below Shadow Metagross

[Rock] Aerodactyl, Aggron

  • Between Terrakion and Gigalith, worse than Rampardos and Rhyperior
  • Mostly if you missed out on too many of the rare or CD options above them; Veteran players will find them more like Tier 7

Tier 7: Only if you have nothing else

These are technically still functional, I guess – if you find another reason to build them.

Mewtwo (Thunderbolt), Gardevoir/Gallade (Psychic), Exeggutor (Psychic & Grass), Granbull, Latias (Dragon)


Just for Fun…

Here’s a list of Shadow Pokemon that you probably would have never expected to even be viable in raids, but apparently, they’re strong enough to show up on my charts (or they would have). This means they’re at least on par with the most budget options, like Eeveelutions, Donphan and Avalugg.

To be clear: These are only for people who really love these Pokemon, want to use completely unconventional counters, or want a Unique 18 challenge. They are NOT general recommendations, and the vast majority of players can just trash them.

Without further ado, here are the “fun” shadows:

Absol, Aggron (steel), Alolan Exeggutor (dragon & grass), Articuno (ice), Banette, Blastoise, Donphan, Dragonite (flying)Flygon (ground), Gallade (fighting), Golem (ground & rock), Houndoom (fire), Lugia (psychic), ManectricMewtwo (Flamethrower)Mismagius, Muk & Alolan Muk (poison), Omastar (rock & water), Politoed, Poliwrath (fighting), Scizor (steel)Scyther (bug & flying), Sharpedo (dark & water), Shiftry (dark & grass), Skuntank (poison), Swampert (ground)Ursaluna, Victreebel (grass & poison), Vileplume (grass & poison), Walrein (ice)

Future shadows to look forward to?

Suppose you have finished building every shadow I’ve recommended above. What future shadows would interest you, then?

I wrote a full analysis on future shadow legendaries, but those would likely come at a snail’s pace. So instead, I’ll drop a list of the most relevant shadow NON-legendaries to expect in the future:

  1. Hydreigon
  2. Chandelure
  3. Garchomp
  4. Rhyperior
  5. Rampardos
  6. Darmanitan
  7. Excadrill
  8. Conkeldurr
  9. Lucario
  10. Volcarona
  11. Roserade
  12. Gengar

These can dethrone current shadow non-legendaries, though some of them may still be worse than legendaries like Reshiram, Terrakion and Kartana.

That’s right… Out of around 500 non-legendary Pokemon that have not yet received the shadow treatment, only 12 evolution lines (6-7%) can do better than shadows we already have. Kind of sad if you think about it, but that’s an inevitable consequence of the way raids and PvE currently function in the game. You either outclass something else, or you don’t matter.

I guess the point is: Don’t expect every rotation to being a new raid-relevant shadow. There are simply too few of them left, and doing this is guaranteed to leave you disappointed. We’ve seen a surprising, disproportionally high number of raid-relevant shadows already.

There are several other shadows that will become viable, tying current shadows (e.g. Kingler, Emboar, Glaceon).

Closing Remarks

It’s important to remember that Shadow Pokemon are premium investments as raid attackers, just like legendaries. It’s an “end game” content for those who care, but you don’t have to build shadows. As I mentioned earlier, even building 6 shadows yourself only saves the group 5-10 seconds in group raids.

Also, this is still a somewhat subjective tier list, and doesn’t capture everyone’s needs and interests. A lot of factors can affect how YOU rank these shadows: How much resources do YOU have (stardust and rare candies)? How much time do YOU have for hunting good IV shadows? Do YOU like building a team of 6 unique Pokemon? Do YOU have a full roster of Pokemon with past Community Day moves and raid-exclusive moves? That’s why I’m making this writeup in addition to @thepokegohunter ‘s infographic, so that I can provide enough information for you to make your own decisions.

Thanks for reaching the end of this loooong article. Hope this will help you in your TM and investment decisions. Good luck, and have fun!

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