VGC 2018 Pokemon Spotlight #2 – Cresselia

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Welcome to the VGC 2018 Pokemon Spotlight, where the goal is to look at a Pokemon who is having success in the format and then give you the tools to understand, use, and even defeat the Pokemon. Today, we'll be looking at Cresselia, a Pokemon who has seen a large amount of success in every VGC format its legal in, always doing well year after year at the World Championships. Hope you enjoy and let's begin!

Base Stats & Typing

Cresselia is honestly one the bulkiest Pokemon in the game there. Its HP, Defense, and Sp. Defense stats are amazing and combined with its Psychic-type allows Cresselia to reliably some of the biggest attacks in the game. This is great because it allows Cresselia to play a supportive role but its decent Sp. Attack stat can allow Cresselia to deal decent damage which means Cresselia can take multiple hits but doesn't lack any sort of relevant damage. Its speed can make Cresselia either a strong Trick Room supporter due to its bulk, but outside of Trick Room, Cresselia becomes a great supporter.

The Psychic typing, while only giving it 3 weaknesses to Bug, Dark, and Ghost, the popularity of Bug-type moves aren't common outside of only a few Pokemon, the Dark and Ghost-types may give it an issue, but Cresselia's bulk should be able to help it out.

Notable Moves

Calm Mind
Sunny Day
Hidden Power Ground
Ice Beam
Ally Switch
Trick Room
Icy Wind
Helping Hand
Skill Swap

For its moves, Cresselia gets a nice variety of moves that plays into its supportive nature I touched on above. This can make it very difficult to choose the moves you'll want to use on your Cresselia which means when picking the moves on your Cresselia, you'll want to look at what you need from Cresselia and choose its moves to suit your needs. Moonlight and Recycle are meant to regain health. Moonlight heals 66% in the Sun, but only 25% in Hail, Rain, and Sand. Recycle works with the berries as a Cresselia that's able to regain a large amount of health quickly can become annoying to face. Both Psychic and Psyshock are pretty strong STAB moves as Psychic is more general damage and Psyshock is slightly weaker in its base power but has a strong niche in dealing damage based on the target's defense stat.

Calm Mind is a great move to increase Cresselia's Sp. Attack and Sp. Defense and a set utilizing this move will be covered later. For offensive moves, Cresselia gets some helpful ones. Hidden Power Ground deals with problematic steel types, mainly Heatran. Ice Beam can deal with Dragon-types like Salamence but also can help versus Landorus. Icy Wind while not being the stronger move at only 55 base power, has the added bonus of lowering speed which can help with middling speed Pokemon. Toxic can be nice to wear a Pokemon down slowly that your team simply cannot hit very hard. Sunny Day can help versus opposing weather teams which due to Cresselia's amazing bulk, you can use Sunny Day to set the weather, or even boost the power of your Pokemon's fire moves to potentially take fewer hits to knock out a Pokemon. Protect is an amazing move in VGC in general, but it's not common due to most Cresselia generally wanting 4 other moves even more, but if you can fit it in, its a nice surprise. 

Ally Switch is a new move tutor introduced in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon that is nice to switch spots on the field with the partner, which can be very helpful to allow its partner to either set-up or pick up a much-needed knockout. This move also has +2 priority so Cresselia will be able to effectively use the move. Skill Swap is a cool one since you can steal abilities from Pokemon that really need it like Mega Kangaskhan's Parental Bond or Sylveon's Pixilate. Pokemon that rely on their ability will not enjoy losing their ability, which Skill Swap takes advantage of. The final one in Helping Hand is always helpful since Cresselia can use it to increase the damage output of an attack, which can be given a Pokemon the extra power needed to achieve its goals.

Notable Items

Psychium Z
Mental Herb
Iapapa Berry
Wiki Berry
Aguav Berry
Kee Berry

While Cresselia can't reliably use a wide variety of items, these items play into its supportive nature. When Psychium Z is used, its commonly used with Trick Room for teams that don't need a Z-Crystal because Z-Trick Room gives the user an accuracy boost which in very fringe situations, can be helpful. Mental Herb is a personal favorite of mine due to its ability to get past Taunt and Encore, two moves that can be annoying for Cresselia to deal with. The Iapapa, Wiki, and Aguav berries are helpful to give Cresselia much needed health when it gets to 25%, which means it can combine that with Recycle. Leftovers give Cresselia residual health gain each turn to allow it to stick around longer. Kee Berry gives it a defense boost when hit by a physical attack, but a set, later on, will go more in-depth into the item and how useful it can be.

Now its time for sample sets. Keep in mind these are only suggested sets and the moves should be tailored to your team.

Sample Set #1: Trick Room Support

Cresselia  sprite from Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Cresselia @ Mental Herb / Psychium Z / Iapapa Berry
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 220 HP / 124 Def / 164 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
- Trick Room
- Helping Hand / Ally Switch
- Ice Beam
- Psychic / Psyshock / Moonlight / Skill Swap

The first set is a personal favorite mine. The goal of this Cresselia is to set Trick Room and then support its teammates. Because of this, Trick Room is the main move you'll want to use and pair Cresselia with slower Pokemon to abuse it. Helping Hand is the second choice to increase the power of its partner's attacks, but Ally Switch has quickly become a very useful move for Cresselia due to how the move can allow it to change places with its partner. The strength of this move in that once you reveal it, it creates instant 50/50's which means each turn, your opponent has to guess whether or not Cresselia uses the move and if they call it incorrectly, their play may look very silly. Ice Beam is another move that is a constant due to its strength in damage and overall consistency. The final slot is very team dependent. If you want another attack, either Psychic or Psyshock could work but Moonlight can give Cresselia health. As touched on earlier, Skill Swap could be nice to steal abilities from Pokemon that rely on their ability to do their job or gift Levitate to a Pokemon that might need it to take ground type moves.

If you choose not to use these moves, The EV Spread is a general one I do recommend using. The HP number is a popular one on Cresselia as it minimizes damage taken from Sand and Hail. With a Sassy Nature and the 220 HP / 164 SpD investment allows Cresselia to survive Z-Dark Pulse from a Hydreigon but bare in mind that Z-Shadow Ball from Aegislash has a 75% chance to KO Cresselia but if you use Snarl on Aegislash, Cresselia can survive the same attack. The rest was dumped into defense for general bulk, but Return from Mega Kangaskhan is a guaranteed 3HKO. Should you choose not to use a Sassy nature, a Calm nature works well but Sassy was chosen to fit the theme of this set.

Sample Set #2: Support the Team

Cresselia  sprite from Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Cresselia @ Leftovers / Iapapa Berry
Ability: Levitate   
EVs: 220 HP / 188 Def / 100 SpD
Bold Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Icy Wind
- Skill Swap / Ally Switch
- Moonlight  / Recycle
- Helping Hand / Skill Swap

The second set is slightly different and is meant to operate outside of Trick Room to also support its teammates. The first move in Icy Wind is great speed control moves to allow Pokemon of middling speed stats to potential attack first. Skill Swap as stated above can be helpful to steal Pokemon who need their abilities, but Ally Switch could be a good alternative to change positions with its partner to force 50/50s and allow its partner to do its job, either setting up or doing damage. The 3rd slot depends on the item. If you choose Leftovers, then Moonlight is the one I recommend to gain health each turn with Leftovers then uses Moonlight to expedite the process. If you choose Iapapa Berry, then Recycle works with that to get it berry back and once Cresselia eats its berry, you can use Recycle to get it back and make it harder for your opponent to KO Cresselia. The final slot in either Helping Hand or Skill Swap is again team dependent with Helping Hand for an increase damage output and Skill Swap to steal abilities.

If you choose 4 entirely different moves, the EV Spread and nature are one I recommend. As touched on before, the popular HP number minimizes damage taken from Sand and Hail. The EVs allow Cresselia to turn Mega Kangaskhan's Double-Edge into a 3HKO while dumping the rest into Sp. Defense which makes both Dark Pulse from Hydriegon and Shadow Ball from Aegislash a 2HKO. If you want to use this Cresselia in Trick Room, a Relaxed nature is suggested and lower its speed IV to accomplish this.

Sample Set #3: Calm Mind Sweeper

Cresselia  sprite from Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Cresselia @ Kee Berry
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 220 HP / 188 Def / 100 SpD
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Calm Mind
- Psychic / Psyshock / Hidden Power [Ground]
- Ice Beam / Icy Wind / Hidden Power [Ground]
- Moonlight

As touched on earlier the goal of this Cresselia is to use Calm Mind to increase both its Sp. Attack and Sp. Defense stats which means this is an offensive Cresselia. The strength of this set is that once your opponent finds out your intentions of dealing damage every chance you get with Cresselia, they'll have to change their plan mid-game which forcing your opponent to do this is very great. Psychic or Psyshock is your choice in STAB but Hidden Power Ground can be helpful to hit steel types, mainly Heatran. If you chose a psychic type move already, then choosing an Ice move or fitting room for Hidden Power Ground to still threaten Heatran can be valuable, but an Ice move is helpful to deal with Pokemon like Landorus and Salamence. The final choice in Moonlight is to gain health since Cresselia still has great bulk and with this set, you want Moonlight to allow Cresselia to stick around longer. 

While the EV Spread and nature is still the same as the 2nd sample set, the addition of the Kee Berry is neat as it gives Cresselia a defense boost when hit by a physical attack, which can be helpful as once you use Calm Mind and your opponent gets the idea to bypass that to attack you, the Kee Berry activates and the defense boost you get from it is helpful to increase Cresselia's longevity. 

Potential Partners for Cresselia

Trick Room Sweepers

snorlax.png stakataka.png
Two of the biggest Trick Room sweepers in the game, Snorlax and Stakataka love to be in Trick Room. Snorlax, in particular, enjoys having Cresselia due to Ally Switch but also its Psychic typing being able to threaten fighting type Pokemon. Stakataka can set its own Trick Room but enjoys Cresselia due to its vast array of useful supportive moves.

Fake Out Users

kangaskhan-mega.png incineroar.png hariyama.png
Cresselia appreciates Fake Out due to the move being able to temporarily stop a threat. Kangaskhan is the most common and thanks to its attack stat, good speed, and Parental Bond ability, it can support Cresselia by covering for it offensively. Incineroar and Hariyama are slower and thus function well in Trick Room. If Incineroar ever gains the Intimidate ability, expect its popularity to rise. Hariyama can deal with the steel types that Cresselia struggle with. 

Follow Me & Rage Powder Users

clefairy.png amoonguss.png togekiss.png volcarona.png
Redirection users through the moves Follow Me and Rage Powder are helpful for the same reasons Fake Out is nice. Clefairy brings the Friend Guard ability to further reduce damage. Amoonguss proves Spore to put problematic Pokemon to sleep. Togekiss brings Tailwind for great speed control as well as Air Slash for a 60% chance to flinch thanks to its Serene Grace ability. Volcarona brings its offensive fire and bug type moves to make it an offensive Rage Powder user. 


heatran.png landorus-therian.png charizard-mega-y.png
These 3 Pokemon can either help Cresselia in different ways or appreciate its help. For Heatran, Cresselia can use Skill Swap to gift it Levitate to deal with its major weakness to Ground-type moves. Landorus brings the Intimidate ability to allow Cresselia to take physical hits better. Charizard forms the "SunRoom" core which combines Charizard's big fire type moves in Sun as well as its Cresselia's Trick Room and support moves to form a powerful core.

How to Beat Cresselia

Ghost Types

marowak-alola.png aegislash.png gengar-mega.png blacephalon.png
Since Cresselia is weak to ghost type moves, taking advantage of this is a good idea. Marowak's Shadow Bone does a lot of damage to it. Aegislash can use Z-Shadow Ball for a guaranteed OHKO and without the Z-Crystal, Shadow Ball is still chunking Cresselia. Mega Gengar can use Shadow Ball while trapping it in thanks to Shadow Tag but does have to be careful of Psychic. The final one in Blacephalon also has a strong Shadow Ball and can use Z-Shadow Ball to threaten an OHKO. All 4 of these Pokemon might have to worry about Hidden Power [Ground] if Cresselia sets up because without setting up, the attack isn't that strong.

Dark Types

hydreigon.png scrafty.png incineroar.png muk-alola.png tyranitar.png
Cresselia is also weak to dark type moves and these 5 Pokemon are the most common Dark types you should expect to face. Hydreigon is the only special attacker which means it threatens Z-Dark Pulse, but this means the other 4 can be managed better with through Intimidate. Scrafty threatens with Knock Off and is very bulky and thus hard to knock out without the use of super-effective attacks. Incineroar commonly holds the Assault Vest and threatens with both Darkest Lariat and with Knock Off. Muk also threatens to Knock Off and Tyranitar is very bulky and can threaten both Crunch and Assurance which can be especially scary if Tyranitar attacks after its partner since the power of Assurance doubles.

Bug Types

pheromosa.png buzzwole.png scizor.png
While the only Bug-type moves that are used is U-turn on Pokemon like Landorus who isn't a bug type, Cresselia does have a weakness to bug moves. Pheromosa's U-turn can generally do around 70% which makes it difficult to deal with as if your using the Iapapa Berry, you're out of range of your berry. Buzzwole can use Leech Life to deal a lot of damage while regaining health in the process. Scizor gets Bug Bite which can steal Cresselia if it holds one, which isn't enjoyable for Cresselia.

Defensive Steel Types

stakataka.png celesteela.png ferrothorn.png
Due to Cresselia's limited offensive type coverage, defensive steel types can prove to be an issue. Stakataka's Gyro Ball can reliably 2HKO Cresselia due its very slow speed and high attack stat, although Hidden Power [Ground] will surely do a decent amount of damage. Celesteela and Ferrothorn can both use Leech Seed to heal a decent amount of damage each turn thanks to its high HP stat and without reliable ways to damage Cresselia, both of these defensive behemoths will win their respective 1v1's.

Alternative Options

Support Pokemon

porygon2.png bronzong.png gothitelle.png mimikyu.png stakataka.png
These are the most common support Pokemon in the format based on prior information and personal opinion. Porygon2, as shown from VGC 2017, can take a lot of hits before going down and the role it played in 2017 hasn't changed for 2018. Bronzong was huge in 2016 and it can find a niche as a bulky Pokemon with Z-Trick Room to increase its accuracy for Hypnosis. Gothitelle's Shadow Tag ability can trap Pokemon for its partner to KO them. Mimikyu's offensive nature and Disguise ability can give it the opportunity for an easy way to use Trick Room. Stakataka was covered earlier, but as the slowest Pokemon in the game that can learn Trick Room, it can be seen as an offensive Trick Room setter.


Thanks to its amazing stats, vast movepool, and item choices, Cresselia becomes a Pokemon that can be very much tailored to support your team and a Cresselia that does this well becomes a major threat. I hope you enjoy this analysis of Cresselia. Check back to the Nimbasa City Post for more VGC content and see you soon!

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