Salamence Meta Analysis: Dreams Taking Flight


Salamence DragonFlying

Gen 1 and Gen 2 lay low when it comes to the Dragon types. The Dragonite family and Kingdra were the only dragons in the game.

While we expect dragons to be large, vicious, winged monsters that have huge fangs and claws, Dragonite was literally Pokémon’s version of Barney the Dinosaur that was a letdown from the serpent-like and elegant design of Dragonair.

And though Kingdra looks badass, it doesn’t really come across as a dragon at first sight.

All this changed when Gen 3 gave us…


While Dragonite has the same dual typing and more or less balanced stats in all departments, Salamence is an offensive wrecking ball.

Also, unlike Dragonite, Salamence has a way better evolutionary storyline that is a welcome shift from the Dragonair to Dragonite “What the heck” moment…

You see, Bagon has a relentless will to fly someday.

That ‘mullet’ on its head is rock hard due to Bagon’s constant attempts to jump off cliffs with the hopes of taking flight.

Holy smoke! Imagine the number of Bagon that died before these stubborn little dragons developed the species evolutionary trait of a rock mullet on their heads.

And once Bagon finally turns into Salamence, that stubbornness and patience transform into pure draconic rage.

Salamence is a brute. It also has the most dragon-like design of all Dragon type Pokémon in existence. You know, the classic European dragon?

While I find the design a bit bland and low on creativity, it simply can’t be denied that Salamence is one of the most powerful monsters in Pokémon Go!

It is a vicious monster in battle that is downright destructive in Pokémon Go following its April 2019 Community Day.

Now with mega-evolutions upon us, Mega Salamence is not far away.

So how does Salamence stack up against the flurry of Dragon types in the meta? 

Will Mega Salamence be a top-notch dragon just like it is in the competitive scene?

And is there any particular way through which Salamence can rival the mega-evolutions or high-end legendary dragons in terms of sheer power?

Let’s delve into analyzing Salamence’s position in the meta and see what the future holds for this fearsome dragon.

Typing and Match-ups

Salamence has a Maximum CP of 3749 at Level 40.

It has a dual typing of Dragon and Flying and as such, is weak to the Dragon Ice Rock and Fairy types, with the Ice type weakness being quadruple. 

While the Flying type is lackluster for Salamence in Pokémon Go, its Dragon type is its biggest USP (Unique selling proposition)

Salamence defensive standpoint lies in its impressive set of resistances that include the Grass Ground Bug Fighting Fire and Water types.


Salamence has the following stat distribution in Pokémon Go:

Salamence DragonFlying
Max CP at Level 50 4239 | Max CP at Level 40 3749
ATK 277 DEF 168 HP 216
Weak to Strong Against
Dragon Fairy Rock Ice Dragon Bug Fighting Grass


The DEF is a bit underwhelming and the HP is decent, but get a load of that ATK stat!

Salamence has the highest ATK stat (277) of any pseudo legendary in Pokémon Go and one of the highest non-legendary and non-mega evolved ATK stats in the game.

Anyway, it’s a well-established fact that in Pokémon Go, movesets can make or break a Pokémon, no matter how good the stats are.

With that being said, let’s check out Salemence’s movepool, shall we?

Moveset Analysis

Salamence can learn the following moves in Pokémon Go:

Fast Moves Charged Moves
  • Dragon Tail Dragon
  • Fire Fang Fire
  • Bite Dark
  • Outrage* Dragon
  • Draco Meteor Dragon
  • Fire Blast Fire
  • Hydro Pump Water

* Denotes the Community Day exclusive move that is currently only accessible through an Elite Charged TM

For starters, why the heck does Salamence not learn any Flying type moves?

Its dragon/flying crewmates, Dragonite and Rayquaza, get access to Flying moves.

Salamence is kinda sus, eh?

Thankfully, you simply can’t eject Salamence out of the meta courtesy of its vintage Dragon type moveset combination of Dragon Tail and Outrage.

Salamence’s DPS with this moveset combo occupies a middle ground between Rayquaza and Dragonite, and this makes it a fantastic option in raids and gyms.

Draco Meteor does a lot of damage, but the lower energy requirement and consistency of Outrage makes it a better option. Furthermore, Salamence’s not-so-amazing bulk makes it more optimal to theoretically dish out two Outrages instead of one Draco Meteor.

However, there is something rather interesting about using a mixed Salamence (one with Outrage as well as Draco Meteor. My friend and colleague at Go Hub, Kratos, has written an excellent article on the performance of Salamence with Outrage and compared it with its usage as a mixed attacker. Do give it a read!

Fire Fang and Fire Blast offer some niche in making a decent Fire type attacker in dealing with Ice types. But, umm, Salamence will go down regardless.

Hydro Pump is a pretty interesting inclusion and can be serviceable.

Bite isn’t viable.

What is the ideal moveset for Salamence?

Honestly, Dragon Tail and Outrage Salamence is all that you need.

However, if you are really a hardcore player and are willing to spend 75k Stardust and 75 Bagon candies to give Salamence a 2nd charge move (well, I have!), Draco Meteor is a great addition to potentially out-damage a single Outrage-running Salamence in raids.

Still confused? 

Fret not! More on that next!

Salamence’s Intimidate-ing Moxie in Pokémon Go

PS: Aren’t you competitive players just loving that title? 😉

The Outrage-Draco Meteor Conundrum

I understand that not all of you are into the various competitive technicalities of Pokémon Go. Which means that it would be difficult for you to get a hang of the reason why Outrage-Draco Meteor Salamence is an excellent option.

Let me explain by giving you a very good analogy…

Let’s assume that a Dragonite (1) has only a single charged move and you have gone for Outrage.

And you have come across a mirror match against another Dragonite (2) with Outrage as well as Dragon Claw.

The fast move is Dragon Breath in both the Dragonite is Dragon Breath (optimal for PvP).

Lets us check out the mirror match simulations from the PvPoke website…

Under the optimal 1 shield scenario:


Under the zero shield scenario:


Interestingly, in the 2 shield scenario, it is a mutual knockout.

In both the 1 shield and the 0 shield cases, Dragonite (2) with Outrage and Dragon Claw convincingly takes the win.

So what does this prove?

And why am I taking Dragonite into consideration in a Salamence article, in the first place?

That’s because I am trying to show you an analogy with a PvP-oriented Pokémon like Dragonite wherein a 2nd charged move that is theoretically not as viable as Outrage is making Dragonite more dangerous.

Salamence, on the other hand, is a PvE-oriented Pokémon and its viability with both Draco Meteor and Outrage is more when compared to a Salamence with only Outrage.

Raids are all about how much damage you shell out in minimal time as you race the clock to beat the raid boss.

Assume two Salamence being used in a raid by you and your friend.

Your Salamence has Dragon Tail paired with Outrage (110 DMG) and Draco Meteor (150 DMG), while your friend’s Salamence has Dragon Tail and Outrage.

In situations where:

  • Your friend’s Salamence comes in to face the raid boss’ charged move to the face, lowering its HP to some extent but not knocking it out
  • You switch in Salamence at a time where you are able to charge up to a Draco Meteor
  • You dodge with your Salamence better
  • RNG

At the brink of fainting due to Salamence’s average bulk, your friend shells out 2 Outrages which amounts to 110 + 110 = 220 DMG

Your Salamence, due to more HP and possibly better dodging, shells out an Outrage and a Draco Meteor. This amounts to 110 + 150 = 260 DMG!

So the Salamence with Outrage and Draco Meteor is potentially more damage dealing when compared to a Salamence with only Outrage.

On a final note, you have noticed how I have laid stress on the words viable and viability?

More often than not, a Pokémon’s usability is more about “viability” than “power”.

As a classic example, Garchomp is technically a more dangerous dragon than either Dragonite or Salamence. Plus, it is a meta Pokémon in both PvE and PvP, unlike Dragonite and Salamence (though Dragonite is still useful in PvP).

Now how is this possible when Grachomp’s ATK stat (261) is lower than both Dragonite (263) and Salamence (277)?

That’s because Garchomp with Mud Shot has the quickest Outrage in the entire game. Plus, Grachomp’s incredible bulk ensures that it lasts longer than the other two dragons in delivering more Outrages.

This makes Garchomp more viable and dangerous of the three.

To conclude, Outrage and Draco Meteor Salamence is more viable than Outrage Salamence.

The Mega Menace

Max CP 5031
ATK 310 DEF 251 HP 216
Weak to Strong Against
Dragon Fairy Rock Ice Dragon Bug Fighting Grass


Notice the biggest gain for Mega Salamence?

No, it’s not the ATK. It’s the fact that Mega Salamence finally gets the bulk it needed to shine in PvP!

So all Salamence trainers like myself can finally find some usage for Salamence in PvP, something I bet we always missed out on majorly!

Salemence is among the 9 Dragon type mega evolutions in the game and is among the best! To see the top 5 mega Dragon types in Pokémon Go, check out my article on the same.

In short, Mega Salamence would be heavily outclassed by both Mega Rayquaza and Mega Garchomp, but it is still going to be an amazing Dragon type mega evolutions with its sky-high ATK and increased bulk.

The Dragon’s Shadow

While Mega Salamence won’t be surpassing Mega Rayquaza or Mega Garchomp in either DPS or TDO, base form Salamence has a major trick up its sleeve…

Shadow Salamence is quite possibly the most powerful non-legendary shadow Pokémon in the meta, technically sharing the spotlight with shadow Metagross.

Shadow Salamence (particularly with Outrage) is going to join the ranks of Mega Rayquaza and Mega Garchomp to be among the best Dragon types in Pokémon Go.

Yes, Shadow Salamence’s TDO and DPS^3*TDO leave a lot to be desired and overall, Mega Rayquaza and Mega Garchomp will still technically be better. But it simply can’t be denied that the shadow form of base Salamence is a terror in raids.

Future of Salamence in the Meta 

Salamence’s highest elevation in the meta is through its shadow form. But is it future proof?

And how good will base Salamence end up to be?

To put it into perspective, the following possibilities exist:

  • With the Kanto legendary birds and the almighty Mewtwo receiving shadow forms, it’s just a matter of time before Rayquaza gets its own shadow form
  • Grachomp is in contention for a future Community Day, where something like Dragon Rush is a possibility. If Dragon Rush beats out Outrage in terms of energy generation and with around 100 DMG, base Garchomp will surpass Salamence easily. Plus, Garchomp will surely receive its own shadow form one day
  • Haxorus has a monstrous ATK stat of 284 (equal to Rayquaza). With access to Outrage, Haxorus will outclass Salamence definitively
  • Haxorus can also potentially become a shadow Pokémon in the future, letting it scale astronomical heights in DPS and comprehensively outclassing Salamence

Needless to say, Salamence will remain one of the elite Dragon types in the game for sure.

Yes, it has fierce competition. But the Dragon type is such… an elite subset of powerful dragons that equate to sheer destructive potential.


In the end, Salamence rounds out to be an absolutely amazing Pokémon.

There is no shortage of legendary Dragon type Pokémon out there and Shadow Salamence comprehensively pulls through with a vengeance!

Even without the shadow bonus, one just cannot deny that Salamence is a wrecking machine that will always dish out massive amounts of raw damage to almost anything it faces.

The Dragon types are statistically the most powerful types in the world of Pokémon and it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Of these many powerful draconic monsters, Salamence will always hold a strong beacon of light for itself through its impeccable stats and movepool.

Bagon keeps on falling off cliffs in course of its countless attempts to fly…

But why do we fall, Bagon? 

So that you can learn to pick yourself up when you finally evolve into the awe-inspiring Salamence.

Pick yourself up and rise… rise high to the skies of the Pokémon Go meta.

Author & tags

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.

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