Cotton Down! The Fall of Eldegoss in Pokémon UNITE
Eldegoss in Pokémon UNITE
Eldegoss in Pokémon UNITE | Provided by The Pokémon Company

Cotton Down! The Fall of Eldegoss in Pokémon UNITE

Can Eldegoss thrive in a post-Hoopa meta?

Historically Eldegoss has been the second most prevalent Pokémon in the meta of Pokémon UNITE. Despite receiving several nerfs throughout the game, Eldegoss had maintained steady and sizable usage in the high-level meta. With the introduction of Hoopa though, everything changed.

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In a standard coordinated game of Pokémon UNITE there are five traditional roles: the top laner, jungler, bottom lane attacker, bottom lane defender and bottom lane supporter. Some play styles will deviate from this general composition, but for the most part that deviation changes which Pokémon fulfill those roles and not which roles need to be filled. Eldegoss has been, until recently, the default bottom lane supporter in Pokémon UNITE.

Bottom lane supporter usage rates among top 100 players
Bottom lane supporter usage rates among top 100 players. | Provided by Maxwell Kappes

Eldegoss does what Blissey doesn’t in Pokémon UNITE

Eldegoss’s first noticeable drop in play occurred in August after patch Cotton Guard and Cloud Crash received nerfs, reducing how much they healed. Blissey released shortly after this patch, but Eldegoss was already rebounding in usage while Blissey’s initially high usage quickly dropped to low single digits.

Eldegoss primarily serves as a ranged battle cleric. With muscle band Eldegoss is able to deal decent damage from a distance while keeping teammates alive through Cotton Guard. Leaf Tornado and Cloud Crash are amazing at stealing objectives, allowing Eldegoss to turn entire games around by itself when necessary.

Blissey lacks a lot of the things that made Eldegoss competitive. As a melee Pokémon Blissey needs to stay closer to the fight when supporting teammates. This forces Blissey to equip more defensive items, making damage increasing items like muscle band a luxury. Blissey can also only target a single ally with its support moves, making it less helpful in team fights. Bliss Assist is also difficult to use optimally and requires a lot of coordination with allies, while Cloud Crash does not.

The sustain meta

Through September and October Eldegoss saw its usage increase, briefly reaching rates above 20%. The drop in late October corresponded with the release of Greedent and the establishment of more Pokémon in the game capable of keeping themselves alive without requiring a supporter.

Eldegoss never recovered its usage rates following the release of Greedent, staying between 10-15% until Hoopa’s debut. Players have thought that Pokémon with the ability to sustain themselves in battle (like Greedent, Venusaur and Tsareena) decrease the need for a supporter. While Eldegoss did see a large and permanent decrease in play with Greedent, the effect is not the same with the introduction of Tsareena or the rise in prominence of Giga Drain Venusaur. Tsareena’s introduction briefly reduced Eldegoss’s usage, but it did quickly rebound. Giga Drain Venusaur did nothing to reduce Eldegoss’s usage. Further, when these Pokémon saw a nerf in their sustain, there was no corresponding rise in the usage of Eldegoss.

Eldegoss was more-or-less an island, seeing usage on nearly every tournament team as recently as February. Heavy sustain attackers like Venusaur found themselves just as supported as the fragile Pikachu.

Hoopa can do anything

With the introduction of Hoopa in early March, Eldegoss saw a rapid decline. With patch cutting the effective healing of Eldegoss by over 50% and a new ranged supporter in the meta, Eldegoss is clocking its first instance of no play.

Hoopa’s toolkit is fantastic. Hyperspace Hole collapses the map in on itself, allowing players to quickly defend lanes and rotate to objectives. It also allows players to duck out of a fight for brief periods of time to fully heal. The moves utility easily outclasses the utility of Eldegoss, but after only a couple of weeks it wasn’t even the most picked option.

Hoopa players have instead been rotating to Trick, a move that combines most of Blissey’s toolkit. Trick provides a shield and increased movement for Hoopa and an ally while turning the ally into a ranged attacker by duplicating Hoopa’s attacks. At level 10 it also grants lifesteal, giving serious sustain to both Hoopa and the ally. This move does it all: keeping your ally alive, defeating enemies, and granting an escape option.

Finally, Hoopa’s ultimate Rings Unbound turns it into a vicious attacker for a short period. The move also allows Hoopa to teleport entire teams to a single location. This one-two punch can be used in a variety of ways. Hoopa can rack up a mean kill streak, bring the team to secure objectives, or summon everyone to Zapdos after several large point deposits at the two minute mark. The opportunities with this move are truly immense, keeping players on their toes at all times.

With such utility, it’s no wonder Eldegoss has been so seriously outclassed. Almost everything it can do Hoopa can do better, and what it can do better doesn’t seem to matter. Unless some big change happens, Eldegoss is likely going to remain unused.

Eldegoss was often a common discussion among Pokémon UNITE community members when discussing nerfs. Many players felt that such high and consistent prevalence indicated the Pokémon was broken. Other players believed that Eldegoss had no real competition in its role. Eldegoss never saw large sustained drops in usage rates due to nerfs. When Hoopa was introduced though, that spelled the end of the once prominent cotton ball.

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Maxwell Kappes
Maxwell Kappes covers Pokemon Unite for UpComer. When he isn't busy having Zapdos stolen from him he's speaking at anime conventions, making bad jokes at a local open-mic night, or playing his favorite video game: Microsoft Excel.