Analyzing Dragon Types in the Open Master League

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The Open Master League is often synonymous with the various Dragon types running rampant through the meta. We have the customary legendary and pseudo legendary dragons that you would come across in every other battle, but also those that may or may not be Dragon types per se and ‘function’ like a dragon. 

In any way, it goes without saying that these mighty draconic beasts are some of the most dominating forces in the big bad world of the Open Master League. It is indeed a fact that powering up dragons to level 50 and beyond is an expensive task that not all of us can ‘afford’. But down the line, it cannot be denied that XLing Dragon types are a great return on your investment! Having a powerful XL’d dragon or two in your team is an asset.

Keeping this in mind, this article will explore the salient features and the pros and cons of all the viable dragons in the Open ML format. I’ll end the article by putting all the Pokémon in a Dragon Tier List for the Open Master League. With that being said, let’s begin!


Dialga

Dialga

Best moveset: Dragon Breath + Iron Head and Draco Meteor/Thunder

Dialga is the supremo of the Open ML meta. Sporting excellent stats, a good moveset, and a phenomenal Steel/Dragon typing, it is not surprising that a Pokémon’s viability in the ML meta is often adjourned on the basis of its ability to beat Dialga. It’s so good that even a super reliable Dialga counter like Excadrill or Metagross can still go take a hard beating from Draco Meteor. 

Pros

  1. Exceptional type combination, both in terms of offense and defense.
  2. Reliable in dealing with both Dragon and Fairy types.
  3. Provides good fast move pressure as well as shield pressure.

Cons

  1. Despite being a counter, it still takes considerable damage from Charm. This puts a constraint on its sweeping potential. 
  2. Not dependable against the frequent Steel types.

Palkia

Palkia

Best moveset: Dragon Breath/Dragon Tail + Aqua Tail and Draco Meteor/Fire Blast

Palkia might not hold as much authority in battles as its Sinnoh counterpart Dialga, but it is still a very good Pokémon. The biggest USP of Palkia is its incredible Water/Dragon typing that gives it important resistances to the Steel, Water and Fire types. With Aqua Tail, it gets access to a low energy STAB charged move that can bait shields and even do reasonable damage to Fairy types. Fun fact: Palkia has the strongest Draco Meteor in the current meta.

Pros

  1. Its typing gives it useful resistances and only two weaknesses, one of which it can counter.
  2. Is not toothless against Fairy and Steel types, courtesy of Aqua Tail.
  3. Also has Dragon Tail as a welcome alternative.

Cons

  1. It lacks good moves that can do high damage to Dragon types. Its only hope is the expensive and self-debuffing Draco Meteor. 
  2. Gyarados presents itself as a flexible false dragon that can often do Palkia’s job better when it comes to facing most of the meta.

Giratina (Origin)

Giratina (Origin)

Best moveset: Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball and Ominous Wind

Giratina (Origin) is a monster in the Master League. With exceptional bulk and the best possible Ghost moveset that worries everyone except the likes of Snorlax, Giratina (O) presents itself as a massive threat, be it as a lead, a closer, or even a switch-in. Shadow Claw is a deadly fast move that deals consistent damage even to Fairy types that try to farm from Dragon types. With quick access to Shadow Ball, shield bait potential, and game-changing buffs from Ominous Wind, this spooky dragon is unpredictable.

Pros

  1. Extremely bulky, letting it absorb super-effective moves frequently.
  2. Its moveset gets STAB and is largely unresisted by the meta.
  3. A stat buff from Ominous Wind can make it nearly unbeatable.

Cons

  1. Bears coverage issues, thereby making it difficult to use against Normal or Dark types.
  2. Not reliable against Dragon types with dragon moves.
  3. Ominous Wind doesn’t do appreciable damage and leaves a lot to be desired when you don’t get the stat buffs.

Giratina (Altered)

Giratina (Altered)

Best moveset: Shadow Claw/Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw and Shadow Sneak/Ancient Power

Giratina (Altered) may lack the power of Giratina (Origin), but this one’s more flexible. With Dragon Breath and Shadow Claw both being very viable STAB fast moves, one can go with either as per its synergy with the rest of your team. It offers more reasonable Dragon damage while also having Shadow Sneak to boot. Moreover, its bulk is stellar, letting it cushion super-effective moves with style.

Pros

  1. Extremely bulky and flexible to use.
  2. Gets meaningful coverage.
  3. Is deadlier against Dragon and Normal types when compared to its Distortion World counterpart.
  4. A good safe switch.

Cons

  1. Its moves, though great, can be exploited by the likes of Togekiss to farm energy, especially when shields are up.
  2. Lacks nuke potential, making it a concern to use a closer. 


Dragonite

Dragonite

Best moveset: Dragon Breath/Dragon Tail + Dragon Claw and Superpower

Dragonite has been a staple in PvP since day 1 of GBL. It gets access to all Dragon type moves, making it a bread and butter dragon in ML. However, Hurricane was its only other viable move that could damage Fairy types but not beat them by any means. The recent addition of Superpower to Dragonite’s arsenal is a blessing. A lost cause against Steel, Rock, and Ice types previously, Dnite can now beat them with super-effective damage from Superpower. It’s worse than Hurricane against fairies but Dnite wasn’t beating them in the first place.

Pros

  1. Excellent Dragon moveset and stats make it one of the go-to dragons in the Master League. 
  2. With Superpower, it can go up against and also beat most Steel, Rock, and Ice types.
  3. Spammy with good damage potential.
  4. Short move animations make it very smooth to use. 
  5. Resists common types like Ground, Fighting, and Water

Cons

  1. Is still clueless against Fairy types.
  2. Shielded Superpower plus the resulting stat debuffs can cost it dearly.
  3. Extreme weakness to Ice type.

Garchomp

Garchomp

Best moveset: Mud Shot + Outrage and Earth Power, Dragon Tail + Sand Tomb and Outrage/Earth Power, Mud Shot + Sand Tomb and Outrage/Earth Power

Garchomp’s recommended moveset options are not alternatives; rather they are different battle styles altogether. This land shark jet dragon is one of the most versatile Pokémon in the ML meta. Being the #1 dragon to eliminate Steel types, one can go with Mud Shot sets for quick access to its nuke moves, thereby cementing itself as a superb closer. On the other hand, you can pair Dragon Tail with Sand Tomb and literally any other move to dish out increasingly powerful Dragon Tail spam courtesy of Sand Tomb’s DEF debuffs in the opposition. With only 2 fast moves, you can change Garchomp’s role in different matches with Fast TMs in tow. 

Pros

  1. Excellent offensive typing with wide coverage
  2. The best dragon to beat Steel types
  3. Extreme versatility and unpredictability stemming from different battle styles.
  4. Reasonably bulky, letting it take hits reliably.
  5. Can bait shields.

Cons

  1. Without Fire Blast, Garchomp simply cannot touch Togekiss. Moreover, Fire Blast is an expensive and underwhelming move.
  2. Extreme weakness to Ice type.

Haxorus

Haxorus

Best moveset: Counter/Dragon Tail + Dragon Claw and Night Slash

Haxorus is one of the most underrated Pokémon in the Master League. Sporting one of the highest ATK stats in ML, spammy moves, and good mono-typing, Hax can be the trick up your sleeve. A chance buff from Night Slash can take Hax’s ATK to astronomical levels, giving it the potential to sweep. With its go-to charged moves sporting the same energy and damage, it is difficult to predict what it will be throwing at you. And a special note to just how awesome its shiny looks!

Pros

  1. With one of the highest ATK stats in ML, it will win the CMP matchups very frequently.
  2. Can farm against the likes of Kyogre running Surf, charging up two Night Slash attacks and therefore, two chances to get a monstrous stat buff.
  3. Counter helps it take the fight to Steel types.
  4. Spammy, letting it pave the way for shields.
  5. Wide coverage.

Cons

  1. Poor bulk is a major concern.
  2. Lacks nuking potential through its ideal moveset. Earthquake is underwhelming.
  3. Fares poorly against Fairy types.

Hydreigon

Hydreigon

Best moveset: Dragon Breath + Brutal Swing and Dragon Pulse/Flash Cannon

Hydreigon was just like Metagross without Meteor Mash… an underwhelming pseudo legendary on release due to an underwhelming moveset. But when Hydreigon got the powerful Brutal Swing from its Community Day in 2022, its stonks reached new heights in the meta. While Hydra is top-notch in PvE, it is good in PvP as well. Hydreigon makes the popular Psycho Cut/Confusion + Psystrike and Shadow Ball Mewtwo a laughing stock. With the simple combo of Dragon Breath and Brutal Swing, this Pokémon is brutal against a sizeable chunk of the meta. However, it still struggles against the Steel and is a muppet against Fairy types.

Pros

  1. An extremely good Pokémon against Ghost and Psychic types.
  2. Brutal Swing is quite spammy.

Cons

  1. Lacks nuking potential and a good second charged move to take advantage of. 
  2. A lot of exploitable weaknesses.
  3. Can’t take on Steel types consistently.
  4. Charmers eat it alive. RIP.


Goodra

Goodra

Best moveset: Dragon Breath + Draco Meteor and Muddy Water

Goodra is an adorable pseudo legendary that is neither great nor terrible. It’s… okay. It does get Dragon Breath and can pair it up with an interesting set of moves such as Draco Meteor, Muddy Water, Power Whip, or Sludge Wave. Being the bulkiest pseudo legendary, it can actually tank enough hits to make it to its expensive charged moves. It fares well against the likes of Kyogre, Groudon, Rhyperior etc. So in niche situations, it can come in clutch and help you win the bout.

Pros

  1. Extremely bulky + mono Dragon typing makes it an amazing defensive dragon.
  2. Short move animations make it very smooth to use. 
  3. Good fast move pressure + shield bait potential.
  4. Spammy moveset.
  5. Balanced stats across the board.

Cons

  1. Only nuke potential is a self-debuffing move.
  2. Cannot dish out damage on a consistent basis.

Kommo-o

Kommo-o

Best moveset: Dragon Tail + Dragon Claw and Close Combat

Kommo-o is a Dragon/Fighting Pokémon, thereby flexing two very good types. It translates well to the ML, wherein Kommo-o can go head-to-head with Steel types. Close Combat comes with a DEF self-debuff but when unshielded, can do massive damage. Not to mention, Kommo-o is reasonably bulky as well. However, it falls like a deck of cards against the Charmers. 

Pros

  1. Good offensive typing that lets it pose a red alert threat to Steel types.
  2. Dragon Tail and Dragon Claw from a decent Dragon attacking set.
  3. Can beat powerful Dragon types like Garchomp, Giratina (Origin), and Dialga (barely). 
  4. Good offensive presence.

Cons

  1. Can struggle against Dragon Breath users.
  2. Charmers eat it alive. RIP.

Gyarados: The Honorary Dragon

Oh my… Indigo and Johto League Champion Lance would be loving me now! 

So, to put it into perspective, the honorary dragons aren’t really Dragon types per se. Instead, they are Pokémon that sport Dragon type fast and charged moves, and in addition, do not take super-effective damage from dragon moves but dish them out in return. In a nutshell, an honorary dragon can more or less fulfill a Dragon type’s role (minus the STAB of course) and not get taken down by Fairy or Steel types easily. 

Gyarados

Gyarados

Best moveset: Dragon Breath/Waterfall + Aqua Tail and Crunch/Outrage

Gyarados became an impressive addition to the ML meta after gaining Aqua Tail from its Community Day. With Dragon Breath and Aqua Tail and Outrage/Crunch, it can put immense pressure on Dragon types while having Aqua Tail in order to bait shields and dish out STAB damage. Crunch can lower the opponent’s DEF and Outrage is a powerful nuke that tears off chunks of health or OHKOs any Dragon type. It has to be wary of Zacian’s Wild Charge though.

Pros

  1. An honorary dragon is often a good counter to Dragon types.
  2. Can face Charmers with confidence.
  3. Good fast move pressure + shield baiting.
  4. Resists Steel type moves.

Cons

  1. Its most commonly run set (Aqua Tail and Crunch) lacks nuke potential. Outrage, on the other hand, is relatively expensive energy-wise. 
  2. Togekiss and Excadrill can still edge past Gyarados with their respective Rock type moves.

Note: Charizard is an honorary dragon with its Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw and Blast Burn set. But its viability is too limited and its losses are too overwhelming to put it in the same league as Gyarados. This is one meta where base Charizard won’t be lit. 


Conclusion: Dragon Tier List for the Open Master League

To summarise and help you tame your dragons better, I’ll put the Pokémon presented in this article in various tiers, with Tier 1 being the best of the lot. It is important to understand that Tier 2 and Tier 3 aren’t bad. They are just now as powerful, flexible, and viable as the one in Tier 1. So the tiers will be based on just how applicable each of these Pokémon is in the Open ML meta. 

Tier 1

Pokémon Best Fast Move Best Charge Moves
Dialga Dragon Breath Dragon
  • Iron Head Steel
  • Draco Meteor Dragon
Dragonite Dragon Breath Dragon
  • Dragon Claw Dragon
  • Superpower Fighting
Giratina (Altered) Shadow Claw Ghost
  • Dragon Claw Dragon
  • Ancient Power Rock
Giratina (Origin) Shadow Claw Ghost
  • Shadow Ball Ghost
  • Ominous Wind Ghost
Garchomp Mud Shot Ground
  • Outrage Dragon
  • Earth Power Ground
Garchomp Dragon Tail Dragon
  • Sand Tomb Ground
  • Earth Power Ground
  • Outrage Dragon

Tier 2

Pokémon Best Fast Move Best Charge Moves
Palkia Dragon Breath Dragon
  • Aqua Tail Water
  • Draco Meteor Dragon
Gyarados Dragon Breath Dragon
  • Aqua Tail Water
  • Crunch Dark
  • Outrage Dragon
Haxorus Counter Fighting
  • Dragon Claw Dragon
  • Night Slash Dark
Kommo-o Dragon Tail  Dragon
  • Dragon Claw Dragon
  • Close Combat Fighting

Tier 3

Pokémon Best Fast Move Best Charge Moves
Hydreigon Dragon Breath Dragon
  • Brutal Swing Dark
  • Dragon Pulse Dragon
  • Flash Cannon Steel
Goodra Dragon Breath Dragon
  • Muddy water Water
  • Draco Meteor Dragon

Dracarys!

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