What are the best Pokémon in Pokémon Go? The answer to this question depends largely on how you play the game, with the answer changing based on whether you want to use for holding Gyms to taking down Raids or beating your friends at PvP.
So, to make life easy for everyone, we’ve split this page into multiple sections, including an overall best Pokémon in Pokémon Go by type list, for at-a-glance reference for what to power up, as well as our takes on the best attacking Pokémon and best defending Pokémon for tackling regular Gyms and taking down Raids.
On this page:
The best Pokémon in Pokémon Go by type
With Pokémon Go’s Pokédex being just under 840 (as of end-December 2023), the number of Pokémon in the game has certainly Exploud-ed over the past few years. Even with the ones that are missing (there’s a total 1025 in the main-series, not including alternate forms or regional variants) there’s daunting number of Pokémon to choose from, so you’d be forgiven for having no idea what the best Pokémon in the game are.
To borrow from Orwell, while all Pokémon are equal in the eyes of Arceus, some are more equal than others, and some are definitely leagues ahead of their peers.
While there are still some obvious bests – like Mewtwo – the addition of variants such as Armored Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo complicate things, and the two Mega Mewtwo variants will just complicate things further. And then we have the Alolan and Galarian forms — is Hisuian Samurott better than regulat Samurott, for example? There’s a phenomenal amount of choice here, and nobody can be expected to know how each Pokémon compares in all aspects of the game.
And just to make things even more complicated, different Pokémon are good for different things, so whether you’re looking to take down or defend a gym, or even beat your friends in a round of PvP, you’re going to want a different line-up.
So, while there’s no single best Pokémon for every scenario, it’s good to know that there are still some standout contenders that you’ll want to focus your time (and more importantly, Stardust and Candy) on.
As such, it’s good to know which Pokémon are generally best for each style of play, and the easiest way to divvy them up is by their typing. Here’s an at-a-glance look at the strongest Pokémon by type right now, including the best options for their moves at the time of writing.
Note that we’ve opted for the best moves of that type where available, which might not be the optimal damage output moves for that Pokémon overall. Rayquaza, for example, does more damage (and is generally best used) as a Dragon-type attacker with Dragon-type moves. But it’s also one of the strongest Flying-type attackers in the game if you equip it with Air Slash and Hurricane, as we’ve noted below.
So use this table if you’re trying to find a good Pokémon of a certain type, specifically, even though it’s good for getting a general sense of the overall best Pokémon in the game, too.
Of course, if PvP is more your thing, we have dedicated pages to each of the cups that you can try your hand at, from the mainstays of Great League, Ultra League and Master League, to those that come and go less frequently, like the Flying Cup, Jungle Cup and Element Cup!
Pokémon Go Best Pokémon by Type
Because the best Pokémon are almost always Mega/Primal Reversion and then Shadow Pokémon, adding them seems almost pointless. If there’s a Mega Pokémon, it’s almost always best-in-class as an attacker, but obviously loses points as a defender, where it can’t be Mega Evolved.
If there’s a Shadow version of anything on this list, use it if you want it as an attacker, but hold it back as a defender because Shadows are basically glass cannons.
If you want a more detailed breakdown of each type, including the best Mega in each type and the best moves and counters for each type, make sure you check out our Pokémon Go types and weaknesses explainer. It has everything you need to know on type charts, elemental weaknesses and the differences between Go and the main series games when it comes to damage calculation.
The below tier list is as of December 2023:
|Fast Move (of that type)
|Charged Move (of that type)
|Dragon Breath (no Ice-type options)
Confustion (no Dark-type options)
Best attackers in Pokémon Go
Bear in mind as again 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 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 while a Pokémon may rank near the very top for raw damage output, it may not rank as highly in our tier list because of some flimsy defences and lack of type coverage.
It’s also worth noting that the best attackers are almost always the Mega Pokémon, so we won’t be including those in our list. Nobody wants to read the same list of 'Mega Rayquaza and Primal Groudon are the bestest only use those all of the time', because that's (fortunately) not how the game works.
You can only have one Primal/Mega at a time, and if you’re doing a raid where the opponent is weak against something you can Mega Evolve, you should almost always have a Mega-Evolved Pokémon of that type to power up your friends' Pokémon and help get you better rewards at the end. So, we'll instead be focusing on the 'best of the rest', as it were, rounding out the other five slots in your team.
Pokémon Go Best Attackers Tier List
The best attackers in Pokémon Go as of December 2023 are:
|Psystrike or Shadow Ball
|Pretty much everything except Dark and Steel-types
|Mewtwo is still just about the best all-rounder, with excellent Attack and bulk, even without perfect moves. Your choice between Psystrike and Shadow Ball is a tough one as they are both excellent – we’d recommend putting resources into a Mewtwo with both for extra versatility.
It can also use Focus Blast as a fighting-type option for clearing gyms, too.
|Water, Ground and Rock
|Kartana may not have been in the game long, but it came out swinging, and we all know there’s nothing more painful than a papercut. Jokes aside, its excellent stats and great moveset make short work of raid bosses weak to Grass-type attacks
|Grass, Ice, Bug and Steel
|Reshiram’s acquisition of its signature move, Fusion Flare, did wonders for its abilities as an attacker, making it easily the best non-Shadow, non-Mega Fire-type attacker in the game. Plus, with its stats as a legendary dragon, you know it has the bulk to stand up to most things that would try to take it down.
|Normal, Ice, Rock, Dark and Steel
|We’re still not sure how Terrakion can kick or do anything with a sword, given its bulldog-like stature. Our bulldogs here at Eurogamer just eat, sleep and complain when they’re not either eating or sleeping. Still, following the 2022 move update, this Pokémon got such a huge bump in stats that you really should do your best to get hold of a good few of them should it swing round again.
|An exceptional move pairing and massive Attack stat put Rayquaza out on top of the dragons – something which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody. Beware both its double-weakness Ice-type moves, and the fact that Mega Rayquaza (when it arrives) will undoubtedly break the game, as its stats are literally sky high.
|Water and Flying
|Xurkitree is almost as good as the top of the Electric-type shadow Pokémon, which gives a rough indication of what its base stats look like. Should it get the strongest Electric-type moveset in the game, or even a shadow-form of its own, it will absolutely blow its opponents out of the water
|Easily the best Ghost-type attacker in the game so far, and incredibly easy to get hold of. Its high defence and hard-hitting Fire-type move make it an excellent addition to your team.
|Fire, Flying, Bug and Ice-types
|Rampardos is a great addition to any raid against any Fire, Flying and Ice-types, including the likes of Charizard and Articuno, thanks to its type effectiveness. The combination of Smack Down and Rock Slide is particularly brutal in these raids.
|Metagross’s optimal moveset hasn’t shifted since 2018, and it has stood as one of the best attackers in the game since then. A combination of great stats and strong attacks make it a great fallback, whatever the situation (as long as that situation isn’t going against a Dark or Fire-type!)
|Dark, Ice, Normal, Rock and Steel-types
|With the 2023 community day making Conkeldurr a lot more common, this Fighting-type has replaced Machamp as your go-to, budget-friendly attacker, but with a couple of caveats. First, if you have a team of maxed out 'champs, don’t worry about doing the same with 'durr. It’s only just better than the Champ running the same moves. Also, Shadow Machamp outclasses all but the non-Mega, non-Sacred Sword users, so definitely don’t stop using those if you have them
Honourable mention: Attack Deoxys is one of the hardest hitters in the game, but since it’s so difficult to get hold of, relative to the rest of the list, it’s basically unobtainable for 51 weeks of the year, if you’re lucky. If you have one, and can get enough candies to level it up, Zen Headbutt and Psycho Boost are the moves you’re going to want to run with!
It's the the Season of Timeless Travels in Pokémon Go, so make sure you complete the Timeless Travels quest! The Road to Sinnoh is leading us into this weekends Go Tour: Sinnoh Global event, while also bringing the Masterwork Research: Glimmers of Gratitude quest. During it, take the time to try out Routes, Gift Exchange and Party Play while you're hunting down rare Pokémon, fighting in the Go Battle League or competing in PokéStop Showcases.
Best defenders in Pokémon Go
Just like the section above, this tier list of the best defending Pokémon in Pokémon Go is editorialised with our own experience, combined with the hard stats of the sources listed above.
Pokémon Go Best Defenders Tier List
The below tier list is as of December 2023:
|It works like this: 'Is there room in the gym? Yes? Good. Is there a Blissey in there? No?? Well, you know what to do then.'
Blissey is still the best out there, even after all this time. The combo of Zen Headbutt and Dazzling Gleam make this Pokémon a nightmare to remove from a gym, even without its intense stats.
|'Is there a Blissey in there? Yes, Ok, put a Togekiss in the gym.'
The combination of bulk and the Fairy-type attacks makes Togekiss an incredible defender.
|Less generalist than the bulky Normal-types but selected as a great counter to their counter, Machamp and Lucario.
|Essentially another Blissey. It’s slightly worse than Togekiss, but still one of the best options out there.
|Many, including Machamp
|What beats the number one gym attacker, Machamp? Ghost-types with massive defence. If you have a Drifblim that’s too big for Great League, but has a CP below 3000 (above this and it will lose motivation quicker in a gym), Drifblim is worth tagging as a gym-goer.
|Bulky, but can surprise Dragon-type attackers with Dragon Breath. Draco Meteor is an excellent nuke too. When combined with its excellent defence, this makes Goodra an excellent choice that most people don’t count on battling in the gym!
|Many, including Machamp
|Its typing makes it resistant to Machamp, meaning it’s harder for attackers to sweep the gym. It’s basically a tank that can give as good as it gets.
|Pretty much everything except Grass and Electric-types
|As a mono-Water-type, Milotic has few weaknesses you’ll see taking on a gym. Combined with its high defence, you have a Pokémon which has been camping out in gyms since its release in the game.
|Gyarados, Togekiss, Drifblim and Dragonite all share a weakness – one that is covered by this exact Pokémon. Want to stop a gym getting swept when it’s looking a little monochrome? Add this big blue land shark and let those free coins roll in.
|Any Rock, Ground or Fire-types
|Another counter-counter, Gyarados is excellent against a good number of attackers – including the likes of Fire-type legendary Pokémon, Entei. A fan favourite in gyms, and for good reason.
Honourable mention: Slaking – while it is comically easy to take down (thanks to Yawn being a dreadful attack), putting one in a gym will immediately shoot up its height, making the gym look well defended, even when it’s not, thanks to its ridiculous CP.