Battle of Three Dragons: Dragonite vs. Rayquaza vs. Salamence

Considered to be one of the strongest types in the Pokémon universe, Dragon types are formidable foes and can cause a heavy amount of damage on any team. But this begs the question, who is the best Dragon? How do Dragonite, Salamence and Rayquaza stack up to each other in Pokemon GO?

In this guide, we will not only answer that question, but we will also take a look at:

Written by JoshP

General Information

The following table shows information on each of the three dragons and it tells us what we can expect when it comes to their stats or competitive usefulness.

Pokémon Pokédex Entry and General Information
Dragonite
Dragon Flying
Dragonite is capable of circling the globe in just 16 hours. It is a kindhearted Pokémon that leads lost and foundering ships in a storm to the safety of land
One of the strongest Gen. 1 Pokémon, Dragonite is a tank with its Legendary Pokémon stats and is one of the most sought out Pokémon in Pokémon GO
Rayquaza
Dragon Flying
It flies forever through the ozone layer, consuming meteoroids for sustenance. The many meteoroids in its body provide the energy it needs to Mega Evolve
The Legendary mediator between Groudon and Kyogre, Rayquaza is a hard attacker compared to other Dragon types, and is a fan favorite Legendary for many players
Salamence
Dragon Flying
By evolving into Salamence, this Pokémon finally realizes its long-held dream of growing wings. To express its joy, it flies and wheels all over the sky while spouting flames from its mouth
Considered to be the Dragonite of Gen. 3, Salamence follows in the footsteps of his Gen. 1 equivalent, with strong overall stats and a higher attack stat than Dragonite

Base Stats

Here are the basic stats of each Pokémon, including their max CP and HP. When comparing the stats of these three Pokémon, we see that the difference in stats is very subtle, so in order to find a winner, we will most have to rely on their movesets.

Winner of each stat is highlighted in the table.

Pokémon MAX CP Attack Defense HP Stat Total
Dragonite
Dragon Flying
3581 263 201 182 646
Rayquaza
Dragon Flying
3645 284 170 191 645
Salamence
Dragon Flying
3532 277 168 190 635

Movesets

When looking at the move pools of each Pokémon, we can make out a clear winner and loser when it comes to their move options.

Of the three Dragons, Salamence has the worst possible movesets, being able to only cause a maximum TDMG (Total Damage) of 150 with his Charged move Draco Meteor Dragon, while Dragonite and Rayquaza have the ability to output a total of 220 TDMG using their mutual attack, Outrage Dragon. So when it comes to movesets, Salamence is our clear loser.

Now, for the winner, though Dragonite beats Rayquaza when it comes to his second available Fast move, but when it comes to all-around moveset potential, Rayquaza is the clear winner: Rayquaza has access to the strongest Dragon type move in game, plus it can have strong Flying and Rock type moves.

Pokémon Fast Moves
Dragonite
Dragon Flying
  • Dragon Tail Dragon
    • 166.66 TDMG
  • Steel Wing Steel
    • 183.33 TDMG
  • Hurricane Flying
    • (1 bar) 110 TDMG
  • Hyper Beam Normal
    • (1 bar) 150 TDMG
  • Outrage Dragon
    • (2 bars) 220 TDMG
Rayquaza
Dragon Flying
  • Dragon Tail Dragon
    • 166.66 TDMG
  • Air Slash Flying
    • 140 TDMG
  • Outrage Dragon
    • (2 bars) 220 TDMG
  • Aerial Ace Flying
    • (3 bars) 166.66 TDMG
  • Ancient Power Rock
    • (3 bars) 212.12 TDMG
Salamence
Dragon Flying
  • Dragon Tail Dragon
    • 166.66 TDMG
  • Fire Fang Fire
    • 137.5 TDMG
  • Draco Meteor Dragon
    • (1 bar) 150 TDMG
  • Hydro Pump Water
    • (1 bar) 130 TDMG
  • Fire Blast Fire
    • (1 bar) 140 TDMG

Offense and Defense Capabilities

If we pay attention solely to the best offensive movesets, we see that Salamence clearly has the worst out of the three Dragons, while all three have Dragon Tail Dragon as their best offensive Fast move, Salamence does not have access to Outrage Dragon which causes 220 TDMG throughout a single cycle, while Draco Meteor Dragon can only do 150 TDMG, making it the inferior Dragon type Charged move.

After considering that Dragonite and Rayquaza both share the same best offensive moveset, we now rely on their stats, and Rayquaza having a higher attack stat, makes it the better offensive Dragon in game.

Offense Capabilities
Pokémon Best Offense Fast move Best Offense Charged move
Dragonite
Dragon Flying
  • Dragon Tail Dragon
    • 166.66 TDMG
  • Outrage Dragon
    • 220 TDMG
Rayquaza
Dragon Flying
Salamence
Dragon Flying
  • Draco Meteor Dragon
    • 150 TDMG

Having Rayquaza as our best offense Dragon, means that now we have to establish which out of the three Dragons would the best defender, sadly, even though Rayquaza would be a great defender, considering the fact that he is a Legendary Pokémon, he would not be able to serve as a defender at all in game.

Even if we were to ignore this fact, taking into account that Dragonite and Rayquaza have the same exact best defensive moveset, Dragonite would win by default considering he has a superior defense stat in comparison to Rayquaza. Meaning that Salamence still loses in this category as well, while Dragonite would beat even the Legendary Rayquaza as a gym defender.

Defense Capabilities
Pokémon Best Defense Fast move Best Defense Charged move
Dragonite
Dragon Flying
  • Dragon Tail Dragon
    • 166.66 TDMG
  • Outrage Dragon
    • 220 TDMG
Rayquaza
Dragon Flying
Salamence
Dragon Flying
  • Draco Meteor Dragon
    • 150 TDMG

Ranking the Dragons

In base stats, we have Dragonite as our 1st place winner, barely beating Rayquaza by 1 base stat point. When it came to movesets, Rayquaza dominated the competition with his superior Charged moves, coming above both other Dragons.

When it came to offense, Rayquaza once again was out winner, having the higher attack stat between Dragonite and himself, making him the better attacker. Finally we had our defense ranking, and even though Rayquaza would put up a good fight, Dragonite would still come out on top with his higher defense stat.

However, the one thing that never ceased to change was Salamence, in every category he got 3rd place, having lower stats, weaker movesets, a terrible “best” Charged move which cost him even having the chance to put up a fight with Rayquaza or Dragonite. So, throughout this comparison, Salamence has become the more than clear loser.

Pokémon Stats Ranking Movesets Ranking Offense Ranking Defense Ranking
Dragonite
Dragon Flying
1st 2nd 2nd 1st
Rayquaza
Dragon Flying
2nd 1st 1st 2nd
Salamence
Dragon Flying
3rd 3rd 3rd 3rd

The Winner

It should come as no surprise to everyone who the winner is at this point, not only having an extremely high base stat of 645, a more than capable moveset for taking down any team, and an offense stat of 284 meant for being an attacker, the Legendary Pokémon Rayquaza is easily, our winner.

Rayquaza’s access to a powerful moveset made him the winner when it came to the moveset category, and because of his attack stat, even though he shared the same best offense moveset as Dragonite, he was the clear winner, it’s a shame however that he cannot be used as a defender in game though, but otherwise, we can consider him to be the best Dragon out of all three, not only dominating in stats, movesets, or offense, but being one of the most sought out and considerably strongest Legendaries around.

Honorable Mentions

In second place, behind Rayquaza by only a few factors, we have Dragonite, the Dragon tank of gen 1, easily the most overused Pokémon in gyms, and for good reason. Throughout this article, we have seen so much from Dragonite, from his base stat of 646 that even beats Rayquaza by 1 point, having an average moveset for his Dragon typing, however also having the exact same best defensive and offensive moveset as Rayquaza, it comes as no surprise as to why so many players look for it.

If you have not had the chance of getting a Rayquaza, then Dragonite makes a perfect temporary replacement, and having the same moveset used for offense and defense, Dragonite makes the perfect Dragon type to tick all the boxes, need a heavy hitter? Got it, want a strong defender? Right here. Ideally however, every player would have a Rayquaza meant for attacking, and a Dragonite meant for defending, a perfect balance of Dragons.

Even though he came in last place for every category, Salamence none the less is still a very useful Pokémon, not as much as Dragonite or especially Rayquaza, but, he still remains as being one of the strongest Pokémon of Gen 3.

Because of the fact that Dragonite and Rayquaza would function so much better as attackers because of their Outrage Dragon Charged move, it is recommended that if you end up having a Salamence, you should use him almost exclusively for defending, although having the worst defense stat out of the three Dragons, Salamence has access to a double Fire typing moveset, which makes him a good defender against the commonly used Ice types against his Dragon / Flying typing.

Offensively, if you have a Dragonite or a Rayquaza, there is no reason to use a Salamence, however, if you really want to get all the use out of your Dragon types, I recommend you use Rayquaza exclusively as an attacker, use Salamence exclusively as a defender with his Fire moveset, and use Dragonite as an overall support for both.

Final Notes

  • The best out of the three Dragons to use is Rayquaza
  • Don’t forget that because the three Dragons have the same Dragon / Flying typing, they will all take super effective damage from Ice , Rock , Fairy , and Dragon type movesets
  • Rayquaza is a Legendary Pokemon, so don’t forget that you cannot leave him in gyms
  • If you want the best Dragon type defender, use Dragonite, if you can only get your hands on a Salamence, leave him in gyms with either a Fire or Dragon moveset

Disagree with us? Comment your thoughts on who the best Dragon here is and lets discuss!