The best Pokémon in Pokémon Go depends largely on how you're going to use them, with the introduction of PvP Battling bringing an entirely new way of thinking about how Pokémon rank competitively.

Here then, we'll split this page into multiple sections, explaining both the battling side of things - the best Great, Ultra, and Master League Pokémon - as well as the best attacking Pokémon and defending Pokémon for tackling regular Gyms and taking down Raids.

On this page, shortcuts:

What makes for the best Pokémon in Pokémon Go, explained

Before diving into our rankings, it's worth taking a moment to explain exactly what our methodology is and why we've used it, because the addition of PvP Battling has had a pretty unusual impact.

This page has several sections - the first few will relate to PvP Battling's best Pokémon, and towards the bottom we detail our choices for the best Pokémon for attacking and defending regular Gyms and raids, which for the time being remain largely the same even after the PvP update.

For PvP, it's worth brushing up on how exactly Pokémon GO Battles, PvP and how to battle trainers works, which we cover in detail in that linked guide.

In brief, it's a one-on-one with another human player, with three Pokémon each. Battles are split into tiers, or 'Leagues' - the Great League, Ultra League, and Master League - which split Pokémon by their CP. The Great League allows any Pokémon with a current CP of 1,500 or less, Ultra is 2,500 or less, and the Master League is uncapped, meaning any Pokémon can compete.

pokemon_go_best_pokemon_1

It's those caps that play havoc with the rankings - and which make the meta considerably more open for experimentation. Suddenly, where once the raw Combat Power of, say, a Legendary Pokémon like Mewtwo would consistently win out, instead a high-level off-meta Pokémon like, say, Ivysaur could be just as strong - because in the lower tiers, their CP is capped.

What makes for the best Pokémon in Pokémon Go

The best Pokémon's performances in battle, then, are dictated by three things:

  • The current stats of the Pokémon - not to be confused with the base stats, or CP (which is a representative number that doesn't affect anything in actual battle). The stats that matter are the current Attack, Defense, and Stamina of the battling Pokémon, as dictated by its current level and IVs (the hidden values that act like Pokémon genes).
  • The Type of the Pokémon - this affects the Same Type Attack Bonus (STAB) of its own attacks, and its defensive coverage (how many different types of attacks it is resistant to).
  • The Pokémon's moves - both their offensive coverage (how many different opponent Types they're either Effective, Super Effective or Double Effective against), and their actual DPS.

In other words, in each League you want the Pokémon with the highest possible total of Attack, Defense, and Stamina stats; a Pokémon with good typing for defensive coverage and useful STAB; and a Pokémon with strong moves that provide good offensive coverage against a wide range of opponent Types.

Coverage, in fact, is more important than ever: instead of being able to line up your team with effective attackers in advance, like you would for taking on a Gym or raid, you won't know what Pokémon your opponent is going to choose. Plus, it looks like type effectiveness - so attacks that are Super Effective, for instance - has been modified to be more significant too, with Super Effective attacks getting more of a boost than before, Not Very Effective attacks' damage being more significantly reduced, and so on.

How we rank the best Pokémon for PvP battling

There's one other thing to bear in mind: IVs. Specifically, Pokémon's Attack IVs. You probably already know that every Pokémon has IVs that range from 0 to 15 for each of their Attack, Defense, and Stamina, and these IVs - combined into a forumla with their base stats and their level - affect how high or low those stats currently are.

The issue is, CP doesn't reflect Attack, Defense, and Stamina equally. Instead it weighs Attack heavily in the formula for working out what CP a Pokémon has, but Attack doesn't really have any more of an effect on battle than the other two stats. That means you can actually eek out a few more stats for a Pokémon if you happen to have one with very low Attack IVs - although note that this is only relevant in the Great and Ultra Leagues, of course; in Master League there's no cap, so you want Pokémon to be at max level with perfect Ivs.

Here's an example, featuring the ever-present Blissey:

  • A Blissey with perfect 15/15/15 IVs at level 19 would give it 1497CP and total stats (Attack + Defense + Stamina) of 487
  • A Blissey with 0/15/15 IVs at level 21 would give it 1482CP and total stats (Attack + Defense + Stamina) of 502
  • A Blissey with 1/15/15 IVs is the ideal, as at level 21 would give it 1493CP, getting it just under the 1,500CP cap for Great League, and total stats (Attack + Defense + Stamina) of 503, slightly better than any other option.

So in Great League, a Blissy with the second-worst possible Attack, but perfect Defense and Stamina, is actually the best Blissey you could use, because it has the highest possible total of stats whilst remaining just under the 1,500CP cutoff - at least if we're agreeing that total stats is the best way of evaluating a Pokémon's strength (which, at least for the time being, we think works fairly well).

That difference is, however, pretty marginal - one stat point will often make effectively no difference in real time - and so with the massive time required to test the variation in stats for every Pokémon currently in the game, we've decided to evaluate all Pokémon on their stats if they had perfect, 15/15/15 IVs. With that in mind, allow for an up to 20 or 25-point swing upwards in a Pokémon's stats (if it's not at max level 40) for those listed in the tables below. As we said though, the actual effect of that swing is pretty low.

The best Great League Pokémon by total stats

Here are the top 30 Pokémon for the Great League, according to the maximum possible total of Attack, Defense and Stamina whilst staying below the 1,500 CP cap, with perfect 15/15/15 IVs. Note that this doesn't take into account editorialised factors like the best Type and Move coverage, which can be significant, or the slight variations possible when factoring in less-than-perfect Attack IVs.

Pokémon with an asterisk* by their name are not yet available, but can be safely assumed to be coming at some point soon, as they're a part of Gen 4.

This table was formulated using Silph Road reddit user Trudisheff's excellent spreadsheet, which we then modified to output the level and CP for each Pokémon that's required for it to fit within a League, and the stats according to that level and perfect IVs.

The best Great League Pokémon by total stats

RankPokémonLevelAtt.Def.Sta.CPTotal Stats
1 Chansey 40 59 113 396 1255 568
2 Blissey 19 83 107 297 1497 487
3 Wobbuffet 40 59 95 313 1026 467
4 Bastiodon* 38 84 234 132 1496 450
5 Shuckle 40 25 324 79 405 428
6 Deoxys (Defense Forme) 23 101 221 97 1494 419
7 Wailord 23 121 65 231 1498 417
8 Wailmer 40 119 65 230 1468 414
9 Umbreon 24.5 93 168 152 1496 413
10 Azumarill 36 97 128 184 1497 409
11 Munchlax* 27.5 106 92 210 1486 408
12 Probopass* 25 100 193 113 1485 406
13 Wigglytuff 27 118 72 215 1486 405
14 Registeel 21 96 183 125 1468 404
15 Cresselia 18 94 154 155 1469 403
16 Dusclops 35.5 106 190 103 1489 399
17 Drifblim 22 122 73 204 1497 399
18 Steelix 21.5 100 177 121 1483 398
19 Lanturn 25 107 101 189 1489 397
20 Jumpluff 34 100 149 148 1496 397
21 Uxie* 20.5 103 172 118 1478 393
22 Lickitung 40 97 120 175 1411 392
23 Dunsparce 32 108 106 178 1496 392
24 Tropius 27 104 123 165 1497 392
25 Snorlax 16 109 98 184 1474 391
26 Regirock 16.5 105 175 111 1472 391
27 Regice 16.5 105 175 111 1472 391
28 Swalot 26.5 106 119 165 1497 390
29 Lapras 19.5 106 111 172 1471 389
30 Lugia 14 103 162 124 1481 389

The best Ultra League Pokémon by total stats

Here are the top 30 Pokémon for the Ultra League, according to the maximum possible total of Attack, Defense and Stamina whilst staying below the 2,500 CP cap, with perfect 15/15/15 IVs. AGain, note that this doesn't take into account editorialised factors like the best Type and Move coverage, which can be significant, or the slight variations possible when factoring in less-than-perfect Attack IVs.

Pokémon with an asterisk* by their name are not yet available, but can be safely assumed to be coming at some point soon, as they're a part of Gen 4.

This table was formulated using Silph Road reddit user Trudisheff's excellent spreadsheet, which we then modified to output the level and CP for each Pokémon that's required for it to fit within a League, and the stats according to that level and perfect IVs.

The best Great League Pokémon by total stats

RankPokémonLevelAtt.Def.Sta.CPTotal Stats
1 Blissey 33 107 137 383 2482 627
2 Chansey 40 59 113 396 1255 568
3 Cresselia 31 123 201 202 2490 526
4 Registeel 40 124 237 162 2447 523
5 Deoxys (Defense Forme)* 40 125 272 120 2274 517
6 Wailord 40 150 80 286 2280 516
7 Regirock 28 137 229 144 2498 510
8 Regice 28 137 229 144 2498 510
9 Uxie* 39 134 223 153 2488 510
10 Snorlax 27 142 127 239 2488 508
11 Steelix 40 128 226 154 2414 508
12 Lapras 36 138 145 224 2490 507
13 Lugia 23.5 134 210 161 2486 505
14 Drifblim 40 154 92 258 2382 504
15 Giratina (Altered Forme) 25.5 136 161 201 2462 498
16 Relicanth 39 138 171 188 2492 497
17 Deoxys (Attack Forme)* 37.5 332 47 117 2487 496
18 Lickilicky 40 139 154 203 2467 496
19 Umbreon 40 111 201 182 2137 494
20 Hariyama 31.5 165 95 234 2485 494
21 Suicune 29 140 179 172 2472 491
22 Cloyster 38.5 157 211 118 2493 486
23 Walrein 34 148 144 194 2492 486
24 Vaporeon 28 155 124 206 2492 485
25 Articuno 28.5 147 179 158 2485 484
26 Kangaskhan 37.5 152 139 192 2494 483
27 Tentacruel 40 143 177 162 2422 482
28 Slowbro 38.5 150 152 180 2490 482
29 Slowking 38.5 150 152 180 2490 482
30 Aggron 29 153 195 134 2486 482

The best Master League Pokémon by total stats

Here are the top 30 Pokémon for the Master League, according to the maximum possible total of Attack, Defense and Stamina with perfect 15/15/15 IVs. Note that this doesn't take into account editorialised factors like the best Type and Move coverage - which can be significant - but unlike the other two leages, the Master League's lack of any CP cap means perfect, 15/15/15 IV Pokémon are always going to be the strongest, and they're always going to be at the level cap of 40.

Pokémon with an asterisk* by their name are not yet available, but can be safely assumed to be coming at some point soon, as they're a part of Gen 4.

This table was formulated using Silph Road reddit user Trudisheff's excellent spreadsheet, which we then modified to output the level and CP for each Pokémon that's required for it to fit within a League, and the stats according to that level and perfect IVs.

The best Great League Pokémon by total stats

RankPokémonLevelAtt.Def.Sta.CPTotal Stats
1 Blissey 40 113 145 403 2757 661
2 Slaking 40 241 143 236 4431 620
3 Lugia 40 164 256 197 3703 617
4 Regigigas* 40 238 177 185 4337 600
5 Arceus* 40 199 199 198 3982 596
6 Melmetal 40 194 180 220 3875 594
7 Kyogre 40 225 192 173 4115 590
8 Groudon 40 225 192 173 4115 590
9 Ho-Oh 40 200 204 180 3863 584
10 Giratina (Altered Forme) 40 159 189 236 3379 584
11 Giratina (Origin Forme)* 40 189 159 236 3683 584
12 Mewtwo 40 248 155 180 4178 583
13 Garchomp* 40 218 164 200 3962 582
14 Dialga* 40 229 178 173 4029 580
15 Snorlax 40 162 145 272 3225 579
16 Tyranitar 40 210 175 189 3834 574
17 Rhyperior 40 202 162 210 3733 574
18 Palkia* 40 233 181 160 3981 574
19 Regirock 40 153 256 162 3122 571
20 Regice 40 153 256 162 3122 571
21 Chansey 40 59 113 396 1255 568
22 Metagross 40 214 192 162 3791 568
23 Heatran 40 210 180 177 3754 567
24 Dragonite 40 219 168 177 3792 564
25 Latios 40 223 179 162 3812 564
26 Cresselia 40 131 215 217 2857 563
27 Rayquaza 40 236 146 180 3835 562
28 Latias 40 192 206 162 3510 560
29 Salamence 40 230 144 182 3749 556
30 Entei 40 197 146 210 3473 553

The best Pokémon for battling by coverage - our picks so far

As we mentioned above, those stat-based lists aren't the end of the discussion - in fact they're far from it.

What you should really do is combine Pokémon with strong stats with Pokémon with strong movesets and typing, for the best all-round squad of three Pokémon - and that's even more important now that Pokémon can learn a second charged attack!

Building a team with strong coverage and stats isn't easy - in fact it brings Pokémon Go's squad-building much closer to that of the competitive scene in mainline games, at least in terms of the basic though process required to put one together. At first, your knowledge of Pokémon type effectiveness, and Pokémon's own movesets and viabiltiy are going to be big factors. As time goes by, the community will settle on a 'meta' of effective squads, and success will come from both using meta Pokémon effectively, and finding creative solutions to breaking the mould!

Thankfully, the community's already got started on some ideas. Reddit user alpha1812 has put together a couple of posts on viable Pokémon with good coverage. Here are our picks for noteworthy Pokémon from their type coverage suggestions:

Moveset combinations with great coverage

  • Ghost and Fighting - The best combination, with no Pokémon able to resist both options. Mewtwo with Shadow Ball and Focus Blast will be one of the strongest Pokémon in the Master League meta.
  • Fairy and Ghost, or Fairy and Dark - Only resisted by the Pyroar or Mawile evolution lines, which are off-meta themselves. Legacy Alakazam can learn Dazzling Gleam and Shadow Ball, whilst other good picks include Gardevoir, Mew, and Banette.
  • Electric and Ice - Only resisted by the Magnezone line and two Rotom forms, which are both off-meta again. Mewtwo is again a strong choice, with Ice Beam and Thunderbolt (what's known as BoltBeam in the mainline Pokéon community) learnable. Even higher in our stats list is Kyogre, which can learn Blizzard and Thunder.
  • Fire and Dragon - Resisted only by the Water-Fairy-Type Azumarill line, which is off-meta. The hopefully-coming-soon Garchomp can learn Fire Blast and Outrage, as can other top-30 Master League Pokémon Salamence. Lower-rated Charizard and Mew are other alternatives.
  • Rock and Ground - Resisted only by the Grass-Ground Breloom and Torterra evolution lines, which are off-meta. Can be learned by the high-ranking Master League Pokémon Rhyperior, whilst Hippowdown is a decent bet in lower leagues, if you can get one at the right level.

We'd expect those suggestions to change quite a bit over time as players get more creative and the meta evolves, but for now we think alpha1812's advice, combined with our stats tables above, is a great place to start!

Pokémon Go Tier List - the best attacking Pokémon and best defending Pokémon right now

Another quick note before diving in: this section is now fully up to date with the stat rework that went live in November 2018, and the handful of additional Gen 4 Sinnoh Stone Pokémon that came with it. There were one or two notable changes, but expect the additional Gen 4 Pokémon to make even more of a difference when they arrive soon!

Bear in mind as well that this Tier List is an 'editorialised' approach, rather than a ranking of Pokémon by their highest DPS movesets or definitive stats, meaning our own experiences, knowledge, and judgement come into play here as well as the raw numbers.

That being said, several sources have been extremely useful for helping us decide: community work like this spreadsheet, as well as cross-referencing GamePress, PoGomoves, and Gameinfo in particular, who have all approached the situation in different ways, as well as calculations varying in depth from complete matchup simulations to more simple attacking and defending DPS calculations, and plenty in between.

We recommend you give all of the above a look if you're on the hunt for an even more detailed breakdown of the information at hand - but be warned, it gets complex!

Below, we'll take into account all of the above, along with our own understanding of the general metagame climate as things stand - that means that whilst, say, Alakazam may rank near the very top for raw damage output with Confusion and Future Sight, it may not rank as highly in our tier list because of some flimsy defences and lack of type coverage.

Pokémon Go Attackers Tier List

RankPokémonQuick MoveSpecial MoveBest vs.Reasoning
1MewtwoConfusionShadow BallManyMewtwo is still just about the best all-rounder, with higher Attack and bulk compared to Rayquaza, even without perfect moves. Can also use Focus Blast as a Fighting-type option for clearing gyms, too.
2RayquazaDragon TailOutrageManyAn exceptional move pairing and massive Attack stat put Rayquaza out on top of the dragons, although beware double-weakness Ice-type moves.
3MachampCounterDynamic PunchBlissey, Chansey, Snorlax, Lapras, Tyranitar, RhydonArguably the most important specialist attacker for you to have, thanks to its strength against many Raid bosses and regular defenders in the meta. Fastest Pokémon to take down Blissey.
4KyogreWaterfallHydro PumpFire, Rock and Ground-typesRock and Ground is still very common in defenders, as well as surprisingly high Attack, Kyogre has the bulk to save you some much-needed Revives, and is the best Water-type attacker in the game.
5DragoniteDragon TailOutrageManyStrong against almost everything, high bulk as well as offense. Outrage just puts it above Salamence as another great generalist.
6SalamenceDragon TailDraco MeteorManyVery similar to Dragonite only a tad less bulky, but higher base Attack. Importance of survivability in the meta puts it just below its fellow dragon for now, but still an excellent general option.
7TyranitarSmack DownStone EdgeManyStrong against almost everything, but with a few more weaknesses than Dragonite. Struggles vs. Hariyama. Smack Down is essential for getting the most out of its Rock typing.
8AlakazamConfusionFuture SightFighting and Poison-typesA true glass cannon, with amazing DPS but very low survivability. Needs to be high level and have type advantage.
9MoltresFire SpinOverheatGrass, Steel, Ice, Bug-typesThe best pure Fire-type with added benefits of part-Flying type resistance to Grass and Bug-types.
10RaikouThunder ShockWild ChargeFlying and Water-typesGyarados and other Water-types are common defenders, and Raikou's the best pure Electric attacker right now.

Pokémon Go Defenders Tier List

RankPokémonQuick MoveSpecial MoveBest vs.Reasoning
1BlisseyZen HeadbuttDazzling GleamManyStill the best out there, even after the stat rework. Almost any moveset outranks any other Pokémon. Takes an age to defeat and even whittles down those which counter. Can be super effective vs Machamp too.
2ChanseyZen HeadbuttDazzling GleamManyLike Blissey but just slightly faster to take down - still better than more DPS-focused defenders, and again has super-effective moves for Machamp.
3SnorlaxZen HeadbuttHyper BeamManyEssentially another option instead of Chansey.
4SlakingYawnPlay RoughManyA weird one, with crazy high Attack and CP in particular, which keeps the gym "tall" for longer thus deterring attackers. Best coupled with Blissey/Snorlax.
5GardevoirConfusionDazzling GleamMachampMove coverage and lack of Steel- and Poison-type attackers makes this a surprisingly strong pick, especially against Machamp again.
6DragoniteDragon TailOutrageMany, including MachampPart Flying typing makes it resist Machamp, meaning it's harder for attackers to sweep the gym. Strong Attack and bulk combined
7GyaradosDragon TailOutrageMany, including MachampA double-weakness to Electric, but not many attackers use it. Flexible attacks but countered by Tyranitar.
8TyranitarIron TailCrunchManyBulky and high in Attack, but double-weakness to Machamp is an issue.
9RhyperiorSmack DownEarthquakeMany, especially Electric-typesA nice counter to Electric-type attackers that might be used against Gyarados, Slowbro and King, and Lapras, and a nice upgrade on the already-tough Rhydon!
10LaprasFrost BreathIce BeamDragonite, ManyWeak quick move, can struggle vs. Tyranitar and Machamp, but counters common attackers like Dragonite, Rayquaza and Salamence well.

Those are our editorial choices for the game's best creatures. But if you're curious about raw stats, the following tables will be of interest.

What do these 'best Pokémon' lists tell us?

  • Moves are more important than ever - especially in the PvP battling scene. Whilst Pokémon like Chansey and Blissey sit near the top of all three tiers in terms of raw stats, their moves are so weak that they'll liklely be of very little use.
  • The meta is more open than ever, too - again, especially in the PvP scene. The Great and Ultra Leagues have acted as a great leveller between Pokémon, with stats playing a significantly lower role. The changes to type effectiveness also makes that more important than ever, so combined with the importance of moves, we should see far more room for playing around and experimenting in battle, which is great!
  • More broadly, we know that Legendary Pokémon like Rayquaza, plus the other first, second and third Generation Legendary counterparts like Mewtwo, Kyogre, and Raikou in particular are great options for attacking raids in gyms, and are generally some of the strongest in the game.
  • The most powerful non-legendary in the Gym scene is frequently changing, thanks to the influx of Gen 3 and now Gen 4 Pokémon, and it'll likely change around some more as Gen 4 continues to be slowly brought in - Chansey and Blissey still dominate defensively, but their power is slowly waning!
  • While Slaking has the highest CP, outside of specialised Gym defence other non-legendaries like Dragonite, Salamence, and Tyranitar are generally far more useful. It makes for a good example for showing that CP means nothing without the right moves and base stats to back it up.
  • Starter Pokémon are gradually becoming less relevant to the meta, but the likes of Blaziken can still hold their own in attacking Gyms.
  • In simple terms, not every Pokémon who ranks in high up on one stat type does so in others. Blissey, for example, has by far the highest Stamina / HP of any creature in the game, but suffers in other areas so it fails to list elsewhere, and you should always bear that in mind when building your squad for attacking or defending Gyms.
  • The Gen 4 stat rework hasn't changed as much as we expected - Blissey and Chansey were nerfed a little, whilst other defenders were buffed, but they're still the clear first and second choice for defending gyms, and probably will be for some time to come - but the rework to moves and type effectivness that's come with the addition of PvP has been more significant.

Additional reporting by Matthew Reynolds.

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Chris Tapsell

Chris Tapsell

Guides Writer

Chris Tapsell is Eurogamer's Guides Writer, its newest Chris, and a keen explorer of the dark arts of gaming, from League of Legends to the murky world of competitive Pokémon.

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