Darkrai in the Meta Game


Darkrai is now available as a Pokemon GO Tier 5 Raid Boss and we wanted to see how well it performs in the current raid and gym meta game. This article compares Darkrai to other Dark types, analyses how well it performs versus Psychic and Ghost types. We also discuss the best move set for Darkrai and which role it fills in the current meta. Is Darkrai future proof? You’ll know by the time you finish reading this article

Darkrai stats and best move sets

Darkrai Dark
ATK 285 DEF 198 STA 172
Best PvE Moveset
Snarl Dark Shadow Ball Ghost

First things first, let’s take a look at the stats. Darkrai’s attack stat is top-tier, but as you can see, it’s not a bulky Pokémon by any means. It’s not exactly a glass cannon, but it’s not a tank either.

Now, let’s see what moves it has in the game data:

Fast moves Charge moves
  • Snarl Dark
  • Feint Attack Dark
  • Focus Blast Fighting
  • Shadow Ball Ghost
  • Dark Pulse Dark

You might be thinking: why use Shadow Ball when Dark Pulse has STAB? And the answer to that is quite simple actually. First of all, it’s important to recall that Dark and Ghost type attacks deal super effective damage against the same types (Psychic and Ghost). Thus, offensive wise, their roles are pretty much identical. However, their resistances are very different.

Type SE vs. Weak to Resistant to
  • Ghost
  • Psychic
  • Ghost
  • Dark
  • Poison
  • Bug
  • Normal (x2)
  • Fighting (x2)
  • Ghost
  • Psychic
  • Bug
  • Fighting
  • Fairy
  • Ghost
  • Dark
  • Psychic (x2)

As you can see, Super Effective damage against the same types, but different set of resistances. And the main difference is that Dark resists both Ghost and Psychic (x2) type moves, types against which it deals super effective damage, which is very important.

Alright, both Shadow Ball and Dark Pulse deal super effective damage, but that still does not answer the first question. If we compare both move’s DPS*DPE (a metric usually used to compare not only how “energy-efficient”, but also how good a charge move is), we can see that Dark Pulse’s DPS*DPE is 42.67 and Shadow Ball’s is 66.67. Thus, even without STAB, Shadow Ball outperforms Dark Pulse.

If Darkrai gets Foul Play in the future (a Tutor Move in the main series games, so definitely possible), it would be better than Shadow Ball (although the move is still worse than SB) thanks to the STAB bonus.

Darkrai in the meta

Darkrai will have to compete against the best Ghost type attackers:

* Although Mewtwo is technically not a ghost type attacker, it can be used as one thanks to Shadow Ball

And against the (less powerful) Dark type attackers:

Honchkrow is also usable, but less viable

Move sets & bulk aside, Darkrai is looking pretty good. Although it is a bit squishy, its resistances help it compensate the lack of bulk provided it has a favorable match-up. However, is this enough to be the best counter vs. ghost and psychic type raid bosses?

From now on, I will generally consider raid bosses with STAB move sets (otherwise the analysis would have too many test case scenarios and would be more difficult to understand).

Versus Ghost types

Against ghost type Pokémon with STAB moves, Darkrai will probably become the best attacker. DPS-wise, Gengar and Chandelure slightly outperform Darkrai. Darkrai’s performance (don’t forget, we’re just focusing on DPS here) is quite similar to Giratina-O’s and SB Mewtwo’s. However, when it really stands out is when we look at its TDO.

Although Darkrai is not a bulky Pokémon, the fact that it resists ghost type moves (unlike the other ghost attackers who are hit with super effective damage) makes it stand out and outperform them, making it not only the best “dark” type attacker (“dark” in quotation marks as it has Shadow Ball as its best charge move) in the game but also the best attacker vs. ghost type raid bosses (with STAB moves, don’t forget that part!).

In a neutral scenario with no advantage in type matchup, its performance will be comparable to Giratina-Origin Forme’s and Chandelure’s, which means that unless it has a terrible matchup (for example, vs. ghost/psychic types with access to fairy/bug/fighting charge moves such as Focus Blast Gengar or Alakazam), Darkrai will be among the best counters, but it won’t be the absolute best counter for all scenarios as you perhaps expected it to be.

Versus Psychic types

If you thought Darkrai’s bulk vs. ghost types was good, don’t forget that it also double resists psychic type moves. The real loser vs. psychic types with STAB movesets is Gengar, due to its poison typing. However, the other top ghost type attackers will take neutral damage (not SB Mewtwo though, which single resists them).

Against psychic types, dark type attackers have always been a great option thanks to their double resistance to psychic type moves. That’s why, overall, they are recommended despite not having the lowest estimator or Time To Win. However, although they are potion-efficient and perform quite well, Giratina-O and Chandelure perform even better. And how does Darkrai compare? Well, it actually beats them in favourable matchups and almost matches them in neutral ones!

Future Proof?

Alright, now you know how powerful Darkrai is but… is it a safe investment? Well, it will become the best Dark type Pokémon in the game. While not as bulky as Tyranitar, its DPS outperforms TTar’s thanks to a higher attack stat & better moveset.

Will it face fierce competition in the future? That’s a bit more difficult to answer. If Yveltal suffers the 9% nerf (as it is expected), Darkrai will be pretty safe as the best dark type attacker. Furthermore, we don’t know how mega evolutions will be implemented (perhaps they won’t, we just have no idea as of now). However, Darkrai could still be outclassed by a better version of itself with Foul Play as a charge move. Foul Play is a move that Darkrai was able to learn in the main series games via move tutor, so Foul Play Darkrai could definitely be possible in the future.

In case you were wondering, Darkrai also has a Signature Move in the main series games: Dark Void. It is a non-damaging move that puts the opponent to sleep (as you’d expect from the nightmare Pokémon). Although I’m not expecting Niantic to make it a damaging charge move in GO, we all remember Charm’s precedent.


Here’s the Tl;Dr:

  • Great attacker for raids and PvE in general
  • Awesome attack stat and decent moveset, a bit squishy though
  • Best PvE moveset: Snarl & Shadow Ball (reasons explained above)
  • Darkrai won’t be the absolute best attacker vs. ghost and psychic type Pokémon in ALL scenarios. However, it will be among the best attackers in most cases (unless facing a terrible matchup due to the raid boss’ moveset) and it will probably be the best counter to such bosses when they have STAB movesets thanks to Darkrai’s set of resistances and overall great offensive power
  • Powering up Darkrai is not a bad decision at all. However, if you already have a full team of counters to psychic and ghost type raid bosses, you might want to think about it twice
  • Futureproof? It could learn Foul Play in the future (Tutor move in the main series games) and we don’t know for sure what will happen with its signature (and presumably non-damaging) move: Dark Void
  • Lacks bulk to shine in PvP, especially in the Great and Ultra Leagues. In the Master League though it has good matchups vs. Mewtwo and both formes of Giratina

Author & tags

Pokémon fan since 2000. Played every single game without exception. I'm an engineer, a tech lover and also a big sports fan. Science is my religion :)

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