Besting the "Big 7" Defenders

Choose your opponent
Tyranitar Dragonite Snorlax Rhydon Gyarados Blissey Vaporeon

Article by dondon151.
Introduction

A few days ago, I composed an article detailing the best attackers into Blissey, complete with a graphical representation that allowed for the reader to visualize how each attacker compares in terms of power and time. This article is part 2 of a 3-part series employing this method of graphical representation.

Although in theory there are many competent defenders in Pokemon GO, in practice, only the Pokemon with the highest CP can survive in a gym. These Pokemon are collectively referred to as the "big 7" - Tyranitar, Dragonite, Snorlax, Rhydon, Gyarados, Blissey, and Vaporeon.

The vast majority of real world gym inhabitants are comprised of these species, and their high natural CP means that an attacker would have to fight them several times in order to raze the gym. As such, when players aim to optimize their attacking squad, they are really trying to optimize against these "big 7" species.

Methods

The attacker plots vs. the rest of the "big 7" attackers were created approximately with same methods used to create the vs. Blissey plot. There are 2 differences in methodology to note:

  • The vs. Blissey plot averaged all of her defensive movesets while the other "big 7" plots only averaged movesets using the superior quick move.
  • The vs. Blissey plot lists more attackers than the other "big 7" plots.

Both of these methodological changes were done so for convenience on my part.

In summary, all matchups were conducted using the dodge specials PRO attacking strategy on Pokebattler, in which the attacker only dodges the defender's charge moves and uses its own charge moves at the earliest possible opportunity. All combatants were L30 with 100% IVs.

To review, here I define the metrics that feature on the plot axes:

Power: This is how many times an attacker can defeat the defender before fainting. A power of 100% means that the attacker goes 1-for-1 with the defender. A power of 150% means that the attacker can be expected to defeat the defender and then take away 50% HP of a second, exact same defender.

Time: This is how much time, in seconds, an attacker requires to defeat the defender.

Vs. Tyranitar

Unsurprisingly, Machamp is by far the fastest attacker into Tyranitar, with Heracross coming in a distant second. Vaporeon is the most powerful non-Blissey attacker into Tyranitar, and Poliwrath also does fairly well in that respect, although it is also slower.

Players often wonder whether other fighting-types perform well vs. Tyranitar, given the relative rarity of Machamp with optimal moves in some biomes. The short answer is no. Hitmonlee does the best of the crowd, although its position on the plot indicates rather sub-optimal performance. Primeape is really close, but lesser fighting-types, such as the other Hitmons, are slower and/or less powerful than either.

Vs. Dragonite

The trio of clearly superior attackers into Dragonite consists of Jynx, Dragonite, and Lapras. Jynx is the fastest, Lapras is the most powerful, and Dragonite is somewhere in-between. Players are often loath to use their own Dragonite due to the mutual dragon-type weakness, but it's actually one of the strongest options.

Piloswine, Cloyster, and Tyranitar are fantastic second-tier attackers into Dragonite. Cloyster especially is notable for being potion-efficient for having low HP but high defense.

Vs. Snorlax

The optimal attackers into Snorlax are similar to those into Blissey, for good reason. Both have the same typing and even have overlapping moves in their learnset. The best attackers in this matchup are Machamp, Dragonite, and Tyranitar, with Heracross being a very slightly worse version of Machamp.

Compared to vs. Blissey, the second-tier attackers look slightly different. Flareon and Exeggutor make a reappearance, although Flareon's performance in this matchup is much closer to Alakazam's glass cannon archetype. For whatever reason, Vaporeon performs fairly well vs. Snorlax even though it was unremarkable vs. Blissey.

Vs. Rhydon

With double weaknesses to both water and grass, there are a slew of debatably optimal attackers into Rhydon. Victreebel is the fastest, Vaporeon is the most powerful, and the plot displays 5 species that fall in-between. Of note, Vileplume is not included on this plot, but its performance is pretty close to that of Victreebel's.

Vs. Gyarados

The rather unequivocally superior attacker into Gyarados is, to no one's surprise, Jolteon. Tyranitar and Snorlax are slightly more powerful, but the tradeoff between time and power here doesn't seem to be worth it. Magneton is the fastest attacker by a very slight margin.

Ampharos and Dragonite are fine attacker options as well. This is despite Dragonite's weakness to Dragon Tail. Making a surprising appearance on this list is Arcanine, no doubt due to Wild Charge.

Vs. Blissey

Celandro recently updated the Pokebattler website, fixing a couple of simulator discrepancies. As such, I have updated the vs. Blissey plot. Please take a look if you haven't already.

Vs. Vaporeon

Against Vaporeon, Dragonite, Exeggutor, and Venusaur are superior in terms of power while also having a respectably low time. Victreebel and Jolteon are slightly faster, but trade a substantial amount of power for that time. The fastest attacker into Vaporeon, surprisingly, is Gengar - a testament to the high DPS of its movesets, although it's even more glassy than Jolteon.

You can't really go wrong with fully evolved grass-type attackers (well, maybe not Jumpluff or Sunflora). Tyranitar's placement on the plot is unexpected, but not that surprising given its elite base stats.

Limitations

Although I am rather fond of the methodology used to create these plots, its limitations must be discussed.

Limitation #1: These plots average the results of some of a defender's movesets (usually the best ones). However, in the real world, players will put "big 7" species in gyms regardless of the quality of their moveset. I must admit that this was mostly a result of my own laziness, although averaging more movesets will not have a great effect on the relative placements of each attacker.

Limitation #2: The dodge specials PRO attacking strategy isn't always the best one, or the one that most accurately reflect what real players will use. Some players are lazy and don't always dodge everything, while other players will dodge the stronger quick moves but not the weaker ones. Changing the attacking strategy generally does not have an effect on the relative placements of each attacker. The dodge specials PRO attacking strategy most adversely affects the frailest of attackers, such as Gengar and Alakazam, who thrive on dodging everything. This explains why they seldom show up in these plots.

Where's Blissey? Blissey as an attacker had to be excluded from these plots for axial considerations. Her matchups had such high time and power ratings that plotting her would scrunch up all the other species and render them unreadable.

But what about...? If your favorite Pokemon isn't on a plot, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are awful. But I limited myself to 12 species of attacker per defender for most defenders. The species chosen for inclusion are typically either optimal, commonly used, or good in theory but not in practice.

Reflections on the Gym Attackers Tier List

The plots created using these methods allow for a reader to visualize the best attackers vs. the most common defender species in Pokemon GO. We can look at these results and use them to verify or refute the placements of Pokemon in the attackers tier list.

In general, I am satisfied with the placements of Pokemon in the attackers tier list, which was created before I conceived of this method. I think that the only clearly misplaced Pokemon is Charizard, whose performance according to the plots was less stellar than originally thought. Perhaps Venusaur deserves greater recognition than its compatriot tier 3+ grass-type, Tangela, and tier 3+ could also use a few more Pokemon, such as Poliwrath and Victreebel.

The astute observer should note the presence of Gyarados on all of the plots. This is not an accident. Gyarados's relative performance across all matchups relative to other attackers demonstrate my claim that it is neither a good specialist nor a good generalist.

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