Countering the Legendary Beasts and their Place in the Meta

Countering the Legendary Beasts and their Place in the Meta
Introduction

On August 31st, Niantic announced that the Legendary Beasts Raikou, Entei, and Suicune were to be released; and they delivered! Like the Legendary Birds, these Pokemon can only be caught through raids. Unlike the Birds, they are regionally based and will rotate at the end of each month. It is currently unknown which region they will rotate to next.

At the time of writing this article, from 8/31-9/30 they are available in the following regions.

  • Raikou: North and South America
  • Entei: Europe and Africa
  • Suicune: Asia-Pacific Region

With their arrival, Trainers are asking many questions about how to counter them and their use as attackers. Using our best mathematical understanding of gym AI, simulated matchup data, and real world analysis, we here at GamePress believe we have the answers players are looking for!

Raikou
Raikou
Optimal Moveset:
Thunder Shock + Wild Charge
Countering Raikou

Of the three Beasts, Raikou will offer the greatest challenge. Not only does it carry two fast and powerful 50 energy charge moves (meaning that Raikou will almost always have a charge move ready to launch at all times) but it also carries the quick move Volt Switch. Volt Switch is effectively the Confusion of Electric-type attacks, meaning that resisting Raikou’s attacks will be key in conquering it.

Only Ground, Grass, Dragon, and Electric-type Pokemon resist Raikou’s attacks. Of these Pokemon, only Ground-types and Dragonite appear to have a large impact. The main Pokemon you want to use in this fight is Rhydon with Mud Slap and Earthquake (Stone Edge is fine too). If you don’t have at least 3, we suggest keeping your eyes peeled for Rhydon raids or hitting up your local Rhyhorn nest. It only takes ~9 Pinap catches to get enough candy to evolve Rhyhorn, and evolving a high level Rhyhorn could save you a lot of dust and candy down the road in preparing for Raikou.

If you’re set on Rhydons, Dragonite is a very powerful, high DPS option to lead into the fights with and could make the difference in your damage bonus. Golem comes in as a far second and Donphan as a close 3rd. If you’re lacking in all four of the aforementioned Pokemon, Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Exeggutor, Tyranitar, Sandslash, and Machamp are all alternative options.

Raikou
This graph compares attackers by DPS (Damage Per Second) and an estimation of TDO (Total Damage Output or how much damage you’ll do before fainting). The more up and right they are, the better. In Entei and Suicune’s graphs there is an upwards trend in the performance of their counters, where Raikou’s are relatively scattered. Raikou pushes the limit of what a “good” counter is, creating a divide between high DPS and high TDO Pokemon.This places a greater emphasis on Rhydon with Earthquake as a counter.

For more information on countering Raikou, check out our Raid Boss Counters page.

Raikou in the Meta

Of the three Beasts and all Electric-type Pokemon, Raikou is the most powerful. While Zapdos has a higher attack stat, Raikou’s access to the powerful Wild Charge causes it to leap ahead significantly in performance. Raikou is so powerful that against Water-type gym defenders and raid bosses, it will perform better than Grass-type Pokemon that both resist their attacks and deal SE damage. If your region gets Raikou before Suicune, you’re set to win.

Raikou’s success doesn’t take Zapdos out of the game, however. While Zapdos isn’t as powerful as Wild Charge Raikou, it does sport key advantages against Grass, Ground, and Fighting-type attacks thanks to its Flying sub-typing. In the upcoming Ho-Oh raid, Zapdos is arguably the number one answer to Ho-Oh’s Solar Beam set. Also, in the event Niantic nerfs Wild Charge, Zapdos will take back the throne as best Electric-type DPS.

Entei
Entei
Optimal Movesets:
Fire Spin + Overheat or Flamethrower
Countering Entei

Unlike North and South America, Europe and Africa are having an easier time with their Beast. Entei is the easiest of the Legendary Beasts to beat and has the most common optimal counters to beat it with. Carrying only Fire-type attacks, an abundance of Water and Rock-type Pokemon make short work of it. Entei also only has one multi-bar charge move, making its charge move usage more manageable for small sized raid groups.

The best counters include the ever popular Vaporeon with either Hydro Pump or Aqua Tail, any and all Golem with an emphasis on Rock Throw and Stone Edge, and Omastar with any non-Mud Shot moveset, the legacy Rock Throw and/or Rock Slide ones having a greater edge in combat. If you don’t have an army of high leveled Vaporeon at your disposal or just want to use something different, Dragonite, Tyranitar, Rhydon, Feraligatr, Kingdra, and Gyarados all make great alternatives. If you’re curious about Suicune as a counter, even with Hidden Power Water, Suicune doesn’t make nearly the same impact that the aforementioned Pokemon do.

Entei
This graph compares attackers by DPS (Damage Per Second) and an estimation of TDO (Total Damage Output or how much damage you’ll do before fainting). The more up and right they are, the better. Unlike Raikou and Suicune, Entei has many really good counters. For example, Dragonite’s point and name are entirely covered by Rock Throw Stone Edge Golem. While Rock Throw Omastar is an outlier, not many players have it since Rock Throw is a legacy move. This places an emphasis on Golem, Dragonite, and Vaporeon as counters. Which one is better? Reports indicate that people are getting 3 player clears with both Vaporeon and Golem, one has a slightly higher TDO and the other slightly higher DPS. Either is fine.

If you want more information on countering Entei, check out our Raid Boss Counters page.

Entei’s use in the Meta

Unlike Raikou and Zapdos, Entei and Moltres are very similar in performance. In a purely neutral situation, Moltres has the advantage of a higher attack stat where Entei has access to the multi-bar charge move Flamethrower, which can give it more consistent damage and end gym battles sooner. Like Raikou and Zapdos, they sport various advantages over each other based on their different resistances and weaknesses. For example, Entei will handle Ice-type attacks better where Moltres will handle Grass-type attacks better. If you had to pick one, we would suggest Entei due to it being more versatile and optimized against Ice-type Pokemon. If you could power up two, we would recommend one of each rather than two Entei.

Suicune
Suicune
Optimal Moveset:
Hidden Power Rock + Hydro Pump
Great Movesets:
Hidden Power Water/Extrasensory + Hydro Pump
Countering Suicune

While Suicune will put up more of fight than Entei, beating this beast will be no difficult task. Even if Suicune uses a Hidden Power type that is super effective to your attackers, it won’t really break their performance. Having access to relatively weak quick moves and Water-type charge moves, Electric, Dragon, and an abundance of Grass-type Pokemon handle Suicune very well. As far as Suicune’s multi-bar charge moves are concerned, neither of them pack enough of a punch to be concerned about. Unlike most raid bosses, fights against Suicune’s multi-bar iterations are arguably easier.

The best counters overall include the rare and powerful Raikou and Zapdos, with Wild Charge and Thunderbolt respectively. Your next best option is Exeggutor, with any quick move and either Solar Beam or Seed Bomb. From there, Dragonite, Jolteon, Venusaur, Victreebel, Vileplume, Tangela, and the ultra-rare Mewtwo step up to the plate as good counters. While they’re not as powerful as the previously mentioned Pokemon, both Meganium and Ampharos make decent sub-optimal answers for Suicune as well.


This graph compares attackers by DPS (Damage Per Second) and an estimation of TDO (Total Damage Output or how much damage you’ll do before fainting). The more up and right they are, the better. While Raikou is undeniably the best counter to Suicune, your performance won’t be too far behind with either Zapdos or Exeggutor. If Suicune carries a super effective Hidden Power, it shouldn’t negatively impact their performances too greatly, it’ll just lower their TDO a little bit.

If you want more information on countering Suicune, check out our Raid Boss Counters page.

While it is a agreed that which Hidden Power type Suicune has won’t change the tides of battle or suggest which Hidden Power type the catchable Suicune has, here’s a handy chart to help you figure it out.

Suicune in the Meta

While the news has been circulating online for months now, if you are unaware or wanted a more trusted source it is true: Suicune is basically useless on attack and will likely always live in Vaporeon’s shadow. Many believed this to be a result of Suicune not having any Water-type quick moves. While this doesn’t help Suicune’s situation, even with Hidden Power Water Suicune pales in comparison to Vaporeon.

Suicune doesn’t just lose out to Vaporeon either. Suicune is also often inferior to Gyarados, Feraligatr, Kingdra, Poliwrath, Blastoise, and Omastar in all respects as a Water-type Pokemon. The only hope Suicune has at being relevant is to carry Hidden Power Rock and fight exclusively against Pokemon that are both doubly weak to Rock-type attacks and use attacks that Suicune Resists (Articuno, Moltres, Charizard, and Ho-Oh). Even then, Suicune would just be a poor man’s Omastar. Suicune will likely remain an unmentionable, sub-par Water-type attacker until Niantic either buffs Hidden Power or spot buffs Suicune’s stats. For that reason, we caution against transferring out all your Suicune because there  is no telling what the future might hold.

Closing

The arrival of the Legendary Beasts was certainly unexpected and exciting. While their raids don’t bring any new or unusual faces to the scene, they do give us two new optimal attackers for future raiding (Raikou and Entei). While Suicune has access to almost every attack type through Hidden Power, it is still unfortunately a weak attacker.

However, a word of caution: With both Mewtwo and Ho-Oh on the horizon, don’t let these Legendary Beast raids distract you too much from all the Tyranitar you should be hunting.

SwagTips

If you want additional information on countering these beasts or have specific questions you want answered, check out the Twitch Stream SwagTips hosted by this article’s author RyanSwag. The stream is hosted every Thursday at 7pm CT for 40 minutes. In the days proceeding each stream, content from the stream is uploaded on the SwagTips YouTube channel in case you missed it.

He already went over the Raikou content last week, you can find it here.

He’ll be going over Entei on 9/7 and Suicune on 9/14.

You can follow SwagTips on Twitter and FaceBook for more updates on the stream, GamePress information, and of course, some sweet memes.

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