Credit for the amazing featured image goes to @kee_fry
The OG Dragon type. The pioneering pseudo legendary. Lance’s WMD. A ‘Nite in green shining armour. And the resident Barney the Dragon.
At the inception of Pokémon Go, no monster was as coveted as this dragon. And no mistake about it… even after 6 generations of Pokémon in the game, Dragonite still remains a force to be reckoned with. While it is arguably the most accessible Dragon type, it always occupies a pivotal position in the battle party of nearly every trainer out there.
And Dragonite’s elite standing in the meta hasn’t slowed down by any means. With the introduction and subsequent dominance of Shadow Pokémon, Shadow Dragonite is undoubtedly one of the most impactful of the lot.
So just how deadly is this adorable dragon? What niches does it fulfil? How much of a terror is Shadow Dragonite? Dragon Breath or the updated Dragon Tail?
In addition, with meta-breaking mega evolutions of Dragon types such as Mega Rayquaza, Mega Garchomp, Mega Salamence and Mega Lati@s looming, and the nightmarish Black Kyurem in the picture, will Dragonite still be a qualified prospect?
I’ll answer all that and drop an insightful spotlight on the meta implications of the dragon that set the stage for all its draconic crewmates to follow.
Let’s soar into the lair of Dragonite!
Typing and Match-ups
Dragonite has a Max CP of 3792 at Level 40 and a Max CP of 4287 at Level 50.
It has a dual typing of Dragon and and as such, is weak to the Ice Dragon Fairy and Rock types, with the Ice type weakness being quadruple. The Rock type weakness is also rather unfortunate since a good number of Dragon tyes aren’t weak to it.
Its resistances include Ground Bug Fighting Fire Grass and Water types. Needless to say, Dragonite does have an impressive set of resistances, being resistant to both Ground and Fighting, the types with the maximum super-effective damage. In addition, it also resists the original starter trio of Fire Grass and Water. All these resistances make Dragonite a formidable Pokémon as it resists some of the best offensive types in the game.
So on paper, Dragonite does seem to be a dominant type. We would assume that its stats complement its reputation?
Dragonite has the following stats in Pokémon Go:
|Max CP at Level 40 3792 | Max CP at Level 50 4287
|Ice Dragon Fairy Rock
|Dragon Bug Fighting Grass
Dragonite has an incredible ATK stat, giving it terrific offensive prowess. This monster is going to hit hard. Period.
Add the fact that Dragonite is reasonably bulky, you got yourself a legitimate badass dragon.
But hey, it’s Pokémon Go. Even the best of stats can be taken down the drain by a poor movepool. But luckily, Dragonite has got the moves!
Dragonite learns the following moves in Pokémon Go:
*denotes legacy moves and Return is obtained only by purifying Shadow Dragonite
Dragon Tail is the staple Dragon type fast move that now even occupies a standing in PvP. Dragon Breath is, well, Dragon Breath. A bottle of fine wine. Both have their uses which I shall come to later.
Steel Wing is usable as it hits the Fairy types for super-effective damage. That’s about it.
Outrage is, again, the staple Dragon type charged move for both PvE and PvP. Dragonite is truly sorted!
Hurricane is a good alternative as it gets STAB and can do good neutral damage to Fairy types. In general, it does hit hard.
Dragon Claw is a spammy charged move that can put real pressure on its opponents.
Dragon Pulse is just an underwhelming Dragon type move in all aspects.
It’s a sin to run Hyper Beam and Return on Dragonite. Enough said.
So what is Dragonite’s ideal moveset?
Dragon Tail and Outrage is the flagship Dragon type moveset and with an amazing 263 ATK stat, Dragonite excels with it. You can give Hurricane to complement its type role. Therefore, the best moveset for PvE is Dragon Tail paired with Outrage and Hurricane.
Dragon Breath and Dragon Tail both have their situational uses. Both have the same energy generation figures at 3.00 EPT while Dragon Tail (with 4.33 DPT) is more damaging than Dragon Breath with its 4.00 DPT
Dragon Claw is spammy and hits decently hard, letting it bait shields and also deal neat damage when unshielded.
Outrage, Draco Meteor and Hurricane have their niche uses. Outrage is a powerful nuke and can OHKO its fellow Dragon types, while also dealing heavy neutral damage to anything that’s not Togekiss or Steel type.
Hurricane is a good alternative and is the only card that Dragonite has against Togekiss. Otherwise, it is also a nuke against Fighting types and heavy neutral against the others.
Draco Meteor is Dragonite’s most damaging move but is viable only if shields are done and you want to go bonkers with your neutral damage. It can also take off a chunk of health from Steel types.
So what’s the best moveset for Dragonite in PvP?
With all things said and done, Dragonite’s best movest in PvP is Dragon Breath paired with Dragon Claw and Outrage.
Seeing its stats and movesets, it is quite obvious that Dragonite is tailormade for both PvE and PvP. Furthermore, Shadow Dragonite can find its terrifying presence in both formats as well.
Dragon Tail or Dragon Breath?
I had gone in-depth for the Dragon Tail vs. Dragon Breath debate in my article on Dragon Tail Meta Impact and Analysis. In that article, I had presented a section solely devoted to Dragonite as it is undoubtedly the most popular dragon to have both moves. So I shall reproduce my own content in order to give you a clear picture of the Dragon Tail and Dragon Breath shenanigans of Dragonite.
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:
With Dragon Tail paired with Dragon Claw and Outrage against a Dragon Tail Garchomp:
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
Dragon Tail Dragonite vs. the meta
In fact, at the time of writing:
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.
Verdict: Dragon Tail or Dragon Breath?
The buff gifted to Dragon Tail honestly wasn’t about comparing it with Dragon Breath or even making it better.
Both have the same energy generation
Dragon Tail is more damaging
Dragon Breath has a shorter animation
As such, the Dragon Tail buff is inclined towards making Pokémon with this fast move better and be competitive with Pokémon having Dragon Breath. Garchomp, Giratina (Origin), Lugia, Steelix, Dragalge, Groudon and more… there are just so many Pokémon for whom Dragon Tail wasn’t viable at all in PvP. With the Dragon Tail buff, the meta has shaken up and so many Pokémon with Dragon Tail will find themselves viable in the PvP format.
That’s it. That’s what the Dragon Tail buff is about.
As such, I will analyze Dragonite with Dragon Breath.
- Primarily because Dragonite is a lot better to use with Dragon Breath
- Dragon Breath and Dragon Tail aren’t too different on Dragonite, or even Gyarados or Palkia. In the end, they are more or less the same.
With that being said, it is time to see how Dragonite and Shadow Dragonite excel in Pokémon Go. Yes, I said it… it excels! Let’s see how
Performance in PvE
Before PvP came into existence, Dragonite was our MO in raids and gym battles. The nearly unresisted Dragon type damage and the high DPS and TDO of this beast made it our prime weapon against the meta. The good news? To a large extent, it still does!
Dragonite lacks a mega evolution, unfortunately. Shadow Dragonite does put in some work and is a very acceptable version for raids. And quite honestly, so is Dragonite. Keeping mega evolutions aside, while Rayquaza, Palkia, Dialga and Salamence do rake in more DPS than Dragonite, it is still a very fine option to raid owing to its good moveset and neat bulk.
Yeah, it is outclassed. But it is still good. Very good, in fact. So if you have a high IV Dragonite powered up, you will still find extreme success with it. With the Luminous X event and Dratini Spotlight Hour in May 2021 giving more than enough Dratini spawns to build a Level 50 Dragonite, this monster is and will always be an excellent addition in any Dragon type lineup. Do note that Dragon Tail is the unanimous fast move for any Dragon type in PvE.
Performance in PvP
Great League (Dragonite)
Dragonite is an average option in the Great League. With high ATK, it finds itself in an awkward spot with its Dragon typing as there is clearly a better option in Altaria.
That being said, Dragonite in GL isn’t bad by any means. It can rack up wins against the likes of Swampert, Umbreon, Venusuar, Toxicroak, Tlaonflame, Machamp and Politoed. So yes, Dragonite is competent enough to deal with those bulky ‘mons stalling around in the league.
Great League (Shadow Dragonite)
Dragonite does put in a better showing with the Shadow boost, with a slightly better 70.6% win rate:
Shadow Dragonite manages to gain wins over Alolan Marowak and Deoxys (Defense), something it couldn’t do without the Shadow boost. These key wins can often turn the tables on the opponents and give you the win. As such, despite being glassy, Shadow Dragonite is undoubtedly a way better option in the GL meta.
Ultra League (Dragonite)
You would think that Altaria losing its crown in the UL meta would favour Dragonite but this league paves the way for a far more threatening monster: Giratina-Altered.
But guess what? I caught you there!
It picks up wins against Swampert, Venusaur, XL Altaria but starts struggling against the looming Steel types, Obstagoon, Cresselia and Alolan Muk.
Basically, Dragonite has a 65.8% win rate with Dragon Claw and Outrage:
Regardless of the fact that Dragonite can go claw-to-claw with Giratina-Altered, it cannot be forgotten that this Sinnoh legendary is the king of the UL meta. So taking it out of the equation would surely favour any Dragon type!
Ultra League (Shadow Dragonite)
Shadow Dragonite achieves a slight improvement over its normal form by now picking up wins against Alolan Muk and Machamp. The Shadow boosted Dragon Breath is its main weapon and can be a major headache for anyone going up against you. Even when it goes down, it ensures that it takes off a chunk of HP from its opponent.
Shadow Dragonite bags a 63.5% win rate in the Ultra League:
In the Ultra League Premier Cup, Shadow Dragonite bags convincing wins against the famed UL Starter trio of Swampert, Venusaur and Charizard. In addition, it also wins against both Machamp and Shadow Machamp, provided there aren’t any shields up.
Shadow Dragonite has a 63.9% win rate in the Ultra League Premier Cup:
All in all, Shadow Dragonite doesn’t exactly gain an upper hand in the Ultra League Premier Cup when compared to its normal form.
Master League (Dragonite)
Dragonite is a formidable force in the Master League meta, being able to utilize its pseudo legendary status to full effect. With no bounds to its staggering 263 ATK stat, Dragonite goes on a buffet in ML.
Dragon Breath and Dragon Claw make it self-sufficient and let it pressurize everything that is not a Steel type or Togekiss. Be it Outrage, Draco Meteor or Hurricane, Dragonite owns it with a neat 80+ percentage win rate all across the board.
In the Open Master League, XL Dragonite impresses with key wins over heavyweights such as Giratina-Origin, Dialga, Garchomp, Groudon, Kyogre and Yveltal.
It bags 85+ percentage win rates with Outrage, Draco Meteor as well as Hurricane. This makes XL Dragonite a massive threat in battles and with the Luminous X event and Dratini Spotlight Hour giving you more than enough opportunities to pack in some sweet Dratini XL Candy, it would be an injustice to not have at least one XL Dragonite on your side by now!
This thing is deadly and you would totally want it!
Master League (Shadow Dragonite)
Shadow Dragonite is undoubtedly a terror in arguably any meta but normal XL Dragonite is still better, though marginally. The lowered bulk and the fact that the Open ML has heavy hitters make normal Dragonite the marginally superior and more importantly, more reliable option.
And if you have ever taken even a little interest in Master League PvP, you know how important it is to have an edge over Dialga. In fact, it is this perk that makes Dragonite’s fellow Dragon pseudo legendary, Garchomp, so dangerous!
However, in Master League Classic, Shadow Dragonite takes a considerable edge over normal Dragonite due to the lack of overwhelming XL power from opponents and Shadow boosted Dragon Breath raising the stakes.
So… Dragonite or Shadow Dragonite?
Shadow Dragonite, like any Shadow Pokémon, is a DPS extravaganza. And with a mighty impressive ATK stat, it can annihilate. However, it is worth noting that Shadow Salamence outclasses Shadow Dragonite definitely. So do some mega evolutions. But regardless, with a good moveset, Shadow Dragonite is undoubtedly amazing in PvE.
In PvP, Shadow Dragonite is a “go big and go strong” kind of dragon. It is undeniably a very damaging Pokémon that can wreck the opposition apart. Yes, XL Dragonite will surely be more consistent and better, having a positive match-up against the mighty Dialga that Shadow Dragonite loses to.
When all is said and done, Shadow Dragonite will always be one of the premier Shadow Pokémon to use in essentially any meta.
A Worthy Dragon
The OG Dragon continues its dominant run across multiple generations and it’s a good call to assume that it will be a top-notch and powerful Dragon type and generalist alike.
To sum it up, should you invest in a Dragonite?
I echo many and say YES!