The GBL Season 8 move updates are finally here and while it essentially inclines towards the Poison typing, the biggest shocker was undoubtedly Dragon Tail!

What was previously a strictly PvE move is now… wait for it… technically better than the famed Dragon Breath in PvP! 

Yes, you read that right! 

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Dragon Tail didn’t just take the cherry off the top, it took the whole cake! Or did it?

So naturally, questions are bound to arise…

Is Dragon Tail strictly better than Dragon Breath?

How does it change the current PvP meta?

Which set of Pokémon benefit the most from it? 

Any new entrants into the PvP meta?

Honestly, there’s bound to be more such questions but this in-depth analysis of Dragon Tail’s impact on the meta would surely address most of them per se. 

Note: Dragon Tail’s update is only applicable to PvP. PvE Dragon Tail remains the same

With that being said, let us see how the updated Dragon Tail hits the meta!

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Understanding Basic Move Mechanics in Pokémon Go

I had covered an article on Dragon type moves in the game previously and I shall reproduce the content I wrote back then:

Here are some important terms that you need to be aware of in order to understand Pokémon moves and battle mechanics better:

  • turn refers to 0.5 seconds, and every fast move occurs within 1-2 turns or 0.5-2 seconds. It is easier to use turns instead of seconds in gauging a move in PvP and especially for fast moves
  • Cooldown refers to the amount of time a move lasts, right from the time you click to the execution of the move. It is basically the duration of the move.
  • Fast moves with low cooldown are more frequent
  • Charge moves with a low cooldown allow for more damage in a set period of time. This is because the amount of time taken up by the charge move in the time of battle is less and in the long run, you do more overall damage
  • Damage per Turn (DPT) refers to how much damage the fast move does in each turn.
  • Energy per Turn (EPT) refers to the energy generated by the fast move in each turn.
  •  Fast moves are intended to not only shell out damage but also build energy to fire off a charged move. This energy build-up is easily measurable through turns and as such, it is convenient to gauge fast moves through EPT and DPT.
  • Higher DPT points to a higher rate of damage or higher damage in each turn.
  • Higher EPT points to a higher rate of energy generation in each turn.
  • A fast move with low EPT and high DPT indicates that the charge move charges slowly and the fast move does heavy damage. Examples of these kinds of fast moves include Charm and Razor Leaf.
  • A fast move with low DPT and high EPT indicates that the charge move charges quickly and the fast move does little damage. Examples of these kinds of fast moves include Mud Shot and Lock-On.
  • Damage per Energy (DPE) is the ratio of damage dealt by a charged move to the energy consumed for firing that charged moves. In other words, it is the amount of damage dished out by your Pokémon’s charged move when you fire it after generating enough energy to do so.
  • Damage per Second (DPS) is quite simply the amount of damage a move does per second and can also be used to gauge the damage per second that a Pokémon does with a given moveset. An analogy to DPT, it measures time instead of turns. A Pokémon with high DPS does a tremendous amount of damage at a given amount of time.
  • Energy per Second (EPS) is the energy generated by the move per second. An analogy to EPT, it measures time instead of turns. EPS is conveniently utilised for fast moves and as such, a fast move with high EPS helps you get to the charged move quickly.
  • Power is simply a measure of the net damage that the fast or charge move can do. This may differ in PvP and PvE.

This has been given so that you can use it as a reference or equip yourself with the know-how on these parameters.

With that being sorted, let’s get to understanding Dragon Tail!


Dragon Tail: Old vs. New

The old Dragon Tail wasn’t exactly ‘bad’ in PvP. It even had a better energy gain than Dragon Breath. But what hindered its impact was the relative damage with respect to the energy generation and the cooldown. 

Dragon Tail (Old)

DPS: 6.00

EPS: 6.67

DPT: 3.00

EPT: 3.33

Cooldown: 1.50 sec

As highlighted already, a (DPT/EPT) set of (3.00/3.00) is considered adequate for having a good balance between damage output and energy generation. But with a cooldown of 1.50 sec, the animation of Dragon Tail lasted long. But hey, even that is fine as long as the move is damaging enough and Dragon Tail does sport the threshold 3 DPT. So, what’s the issue with the move?

The issues with Dragon Tail come to light when you check out the stats of Dragon Breath:

Dragon Breath

DPS: 8.00

EPS: 6.00

DPT: 4.00

EPT: 3.00

Cooldown: 0.50 sec

Dragon Breath not only has a lower cooldown but it also sports more damage than Dragon Tail. The (DPT/EPT) set of Dragon Breath is excellent: (4.00/3.00) and is one of the best fast moves in the entire game in addition to the Fighting type Counter (4.00/3.50).

So where does the renewed Dragon Tail round up?

The updated Dragon Tail has the following stats:

Dragon Tail (New)

DPS: 8.67

EPS: 6.00

DPT: 4.33

EPT: 3.00

Cooldown: 1.50 sec

Dragon Tail now clearly surpasses Dragon Breath in terms of raw damage. In addition, it also has the same energy generation as Dragon Breath now. As such, when you think of damage and energy, Dragon Tail is the winner.


Dragon Tail vs. Dragon Breath

This is the hype. The debate of the season in the world of dragons. Let’s answer it once and for all.

So is Dragon Tail the superior Dragon type fast move? Is Dragon Breath not as good now?

Not really.

You see, Dragon Breath still has a better cooldown. With only 0.50 sec in comparison to Dragon Tail’s 1.50 sec, Dragon Breath just lasts 1 turn, has a shorter animation and as such, is smoother and simpler to use. On the other hand, Dragon Tail has a longer animation and can be a bit of a bother to use.

Essentially, using Dragon Breath is akin to driving a car with good suspension… smooth, pleasant and it just “goes easily”. 

Using Dragon Tail is like driving a high-performance car of pure power through rough terrain.  

Dragon Tail is like beer, Dragon Breath is like wine. 

You get the picture.

So quite honestly, there isn’t any better move per se. They both perform. Period.

But which one performs better is basically situational. Let me explain:

  • Dragon Breath performs better when your opponent has low HP left (maybe because it survived your charged move and/or has good DEF) and you can chime in your 1-turn Dragon Breath and cut the opponent short of attacking you even if they have energy saved up for their charged move. In other words, Dragon Breath lets you beat an opponent when they have low HP but are ready to hit you with a charged move
  • Dragon Tail performs better when your opponent is using a charged move, and you can actually chip in extra Dragon Tail damage when they are charging their moves (imagine swiping your charged move bubbles and actually taking damage from an extra Dragon Tail!). This was, you get a free turn, have an extra Dragon Tail charged and can get to your charged move(s) quicker. It becomes all the more evident when your opponent doesn’t time their charged moves right

Dragonite with Dragon Tail

Dragonite DragonFlying

For a prime Pokémon like Dragonite that has both Dragon Breath and Dragon Tail, let’s see which one fares better:

In the Open Master League, with Dragon Breath paired with Dragon Claw and Outrage against a Garchomp with Dragon Tail and Outrage:

Source: pvpoke.com

With Dragon Tail paired with Dragon Claw and Outrage against a Dragon Tail Garchomp:

Source: pvpoke.com

Contrasting results!

Against a Garchomp sporting its own Dragon Tail, a Dragon Breath Dragonite wins while a Dragon Tail Dragonite loses!

Clearly, Dragon Breath is better?

Because if I run the sims for Dragonite against the Open Master League meta, I get some rather interesting results!

Dragon Breath Dragonite vs. The Meta

An 88.7% win rate

Source: pvpoke.com

Dragon Tail Dragonite vs. the meta

An 89.2% win rate

Source: pvpoke.com

In fact, at the time of writing:

Open Master League Rankings. Source: pvpoke.com

Well?

To sum it up, the answer to the heated debate on “Dragon Tail or Dragon Breath?” has no clear answer. Either can be better based on the situation.

Want your fast moves to do more damage? Dragon Tail.

Want to get to your charged moves sooner? Dragon Breath.

But it gets more complicated when you consider the fact that with a smaller animation, Dragon Breath can still do more damage than Dragon Tail in a given timeframe. Or, ineffective charged move usage from your opponent can let Dragon Tail do more damage easily.


The true purpose of the Dragon Tail update

The situations favouring each of Dragon Breath and Dragon Tail are many, you can honestly go with whichever move seems fit. While I did have to address the debate, this moveset rebalance blessing Dragon Tail isn’t really about inviting comparisons with Dragon Breath. Rather, it’s about making Pokémon with Dragon Tail more relevant in PvP. 

In fact, Dragonite, Palkia and Gyarados are the only relevant Pokémon that get access to both Dragon Tail and Dragon Breath. There is a host of Pokémon that learn Dragon Tail and can now make great use of it in PvP. Remember, the Dragon Tail update applies only to PvP and remains unchanged in PvE, where Dragon Tail is undoubtedly superior.

With the being said, let us explore how the now PvP-friendly Dragon Tail boosts certain Pokémon in the PvP meta!

Note: I have already shown Dragonite’s performance with Dragon Tail. So I shall move ahead with other Pokémon!


The Tailer Meta: Top Pokémon benefiting from Dragon Tail in PvP

Garchomp

Garchomp DragonGround

The pseudo legendary land shark jet dragon is one of the biggest recipients of the Dragon Tail buff. In general, Garchomp has always been treated well. It got Sand Tomb off an earlier move rebalance, gets access to the powerful Earth Power from its Community Day and Dragon Tail makes it more versatile.

Many had hoped for Dragon Breath as the exclusive move for Garchomp. With the Dragon Tail buff, Garchomp gets a functional Dragon Breath of its own that technically deals more damage!

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In the Open Master League, Garchomp with Dragon Tail paired with Outrage and Earth Power has an 82.6% win rate:

Source: pvpoke.com

With Dragon Tail paired with Outrage and Sand Tomb, Dragon Tail Garchomp delivers its best and has an 89.4% win rate:

Source: pvpoke.com

While Garchomp cannot function as an effective Steel and charged move(s) spammer killer without Mud Shot, Garchomp still performs incredibly well with Dragon Tail by tearing through the Open ML meta.

Garchomp with Dragon Tail paired with Sand Tomb and Outrage chomps through the Open ML meta with the following wins:

This is exceptional! Those are some mighty impressive wins and it just goes on to show how versatile Garchomp can be!


Haxorus

Haxorus Dragon

With an ATK stat equal to that of the mighty Rayquaza, Haxorus has been a dark horse with tremendous potential. While Counter is a good move to run, it lacks STAB and withholds Haxorus from breaking out to its true nature. With Dragon Tail’s heavy damage complemented with Haxorus’ offensive prowess, it is a force to be reckoned with in the Open Master League!

With Dragon Tail paired with Dragon Claw and Night Slash, Haxorus has a neat 82.8% win rate:

Source: pvpoke.com

Haxorus axes its way through the Open Master League with the following wins:

Needless to say, these are some really useful wins from Dragon Tail Haxorus. There is also the chance for Haxorus to receive an ATK boost from Night Slash, turning it into a nightmare for the meta. It’s time for this axe-wielding Dragon type to grip the ML meta!


Giratina (Origin)

Giratina (Origin) GhostDragon

A master of its own dimension and one of the scariest monsters in the Master League meta, Giratina (Origin) has always had a mean streak. However, it had to rely on Shadow Claw to be the threat it is. Now, this spooky dragon has a new weapon in its arsenal: Dragon Tail.

With Shadow Claw, Giratina (Origin) raked up an 80.6% win rate. However, with the buffed Dragon Tail, it gets an 84% win rate:

Source: pvpoke.com

Giratina with Dragon Tail terrorises the Open ML meta with the following wins:

With these high-profile wins, Giratina (Origin) takes its dominance to another level and lives up to its fearsome reputation.


Rayquaza

Rayquaza DragonFlying

The almighty Rayquaza finally ushers into the PvP side with an offensive monstrosity that would take the ML meta by storm! Beware, Groudon and Kyogre, because this supreme dragon can and will Dragon Tail you back to your turfs.

Aided with Dragon Tail’s buff, Rayquaza sweeps a clean 80.3% win rate against the notorious ML meta:

Source: pvpoke.com

The lack of a reliable moveset and decent bulk were the only parameters holding back Rayquaza from shining in the ML meta. While its underwhelming DEF won’t make it the bulkiest Dragon type around, its sky-high ATK stat and the heavy-damage Dragon Tail are sure to deliver!

Rayquaza conquers the following wins:

Rayquaza finally extends its dominance to PvP by having a stellar run in the Open ML meta. This should undoubtedly include a lot of play for Rayquaza for its ability to annihilate much of the opposition.


Lugia

Lugia PsychicFlying

This flying tank of a Pokémon is bulkiness personified. With the nuke Aeroblast in its possession, all it need was Dragon Tail to get better. And the beast has been unleashed!

With Dragon Tail coupled with its flagship Sky Attack and Aeroblast, Lugia has a whopping 92.4% win rate in the Open Master League!

Source: pvpoke.com

With that level of performance figures, you should be naturally expecting some major wins by Lugia:

Lugia is absolutely dominant! It was already a headache to deal with in the first place and now, it is a nightmare! There’s a stronger and meaner flying beast in the ML meta and it is going to be nothing short of crazy powerful!


Steelix

Steelix SteelGround

One of the OG Steel types, this defensive behemoth was always critically acclaimed in the Ultra League for its viable moveset and reliability in crunch situations (pun intended). With the underwhelming Iron Tail and low energy Thunder Fang, Dragon Tail has always been the fast move of choice for Steelix. Now with Dragon Tail’s gains, Steelix is a spoilt brat who would wreak havoc in the UL meta.

At the time of this writing, Steelix occupies an impressive #9 spot in the UL rankings:

Source: pvpoke.com

With Dragon Tail paired with Crunch and Earthquake, Steelix has a pleasant 72.5% win rate against the UL meta:

Source: pvpoke.com

Steelix grins because it claims some key wins in the UL meta:

Needless to say, these attractive wins really make Steelix an imposing monster in the Ultra League. Steelix will undoubtedly see more play when UL hits and deservedly so! Extremely bulky to the point that it absorbs super-effective hits, an upgraded move that makes it deadlier and a knowing grin that would be the last thing your opponent sees before going down to this iron snake with a dragon tail!


Parting words

There will be more Pokémon that find themselves more viable than ever in PvP. This includes the likes of Milotic, Salamence and Dragalge.

On that note, if you want a detailed look into how Dragon Tail benefits Pokémon like Dragalge, Groudon and understand out how Steelix and Lugia fare in the GL and UL meta, then check out JRESeawolf’s complete analysis of the move rebalance of Season 8 on Silph Road’s Reddit and on our very own Go Hub site, where he also gives an amazing coverage of Dragon Tail. Additionally, a rather interesting tidbit about Dragon Tail has been covered in the article: Till now, the only fast moves with a DPT of more than 4.00 are Charm (5.33) and Razor Leaf (5.00). Now, Dragon Tail has a DPT of 4.33 complemented with an energy gain of 50% more than Charm or Razor Leaf!

The Tailers are truly here!

Garchomp, Rayquaza, Haxorus, Lugia, Steelix, Giratina (Origin) and Dragonite… it cannot be denied that they use the perks offered by the renovated Dragon Tail better than the rest!

This season has already presented itself as one of the most interesting and dynamic ones ever, and Dragon Tail is undeniably one of the primary reasons behind this.

The renewed Dragon Tail is much welcome! It gives several Pokémon the chance to earn some bragging rights in PvP while making others stronger than ever.

The excitement is high and the hype is real!

Welcome aboard the meta, Tailers!

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My name is Niladri Sarkar. A Team Valor Trainer, I'm a Pokémon Battle Mechanics Specialist & a Dragon Master on Smogon's Pokémon Showdown where I particularly excel with Dragon types and Weather teams in Ubers / OU. I love to apply my vast knowledge and experience to the ever changing meta of Pokémon Go, specialising in DPS/TDO math, movesets, the Master League and Dragon types. Garchomp is my best Pokémon pal through and through.