Gym Defenders Tier List

Rankings
Attackers
Gym Attackers
Defenders
Gym Defenders

DPS per type

In February 2017, Niantic implemented the biggest update to date in Pokemon GO, consisting of over 80 new generation 2 Pokemon species and an extensive move data overhaul. GamePress is proud to present the first iteration of its generation 2 tier list, which combines our best mathematical understanding of gym defense AI, simulated matchup data, and real-world metagame analysis.

As of the time of writing, Pokemon GO is almost 8 months old. By now, hardcore players are likely to be approaching an “endgame” state with a fully optimized crew of attackers and defenders, while more casual players are still likely to have a well-rounded collection supplemented by a handful of rare Pokemon. Generation 2 introduced several viable Pokemon species and gave new movesets to some generation 1 veterans, which have brought them to prominence. At this stage in the game, we assume that most players are not limited by their access to good attackers.

In the process of creating this tier list, we first assessed the quantitative defensive ability of each Pokemon and then supplemented that with simulations of numerous specific matchups. We assessed defender quality via 2 factors: the amount of damage done to an attacker and the amount of time required for the attacker to win. Because attackers have ultimate freedom in matchup choice, we heavily weighted a Pokemon’s worst matchups when considering their placement in the tier list.

Finally, although the objective of GamePress’s very first tier list was to create a defender tier list independent of CP (which is by no means an accurate indicator of defender quality), it is clear that CP influences a player’s choice of defender now more than ever. One big reason is the advent of Blissey, the single best defender to have ever graced Pokemon GO. The ability to place above Blissey (and to a lesser extent, Snorlax) indirectly increases a defender’s value by forcing an attacker to fight the Blissey first.

Tier 1

This Pokemon is an elite defender in essentially all situations and carries favorable matchups against every attacker in the game. She has great damage output and draws attackers into prolonged battles.

Tier 1Rating Explanation
BlisseyBlissey Pros:
  • The strongest overall defender, with no losing matchups.
  • Requires almost twice as much time to defeat as the next best defender.
  • Any moveset, regardless of rating, is superior to the next best defender.
  • Has a high max CP.

Cons:
  • Extraordinarily difficult to prestige against.

Optimal Moveset
  • Pound or Zen Headbutt + Dazzling Gleam
Tier 2

This Pokemon is a great defender in essentially all situations and carries strong matchups against every attacker in the game. Though not all matchups result in victory, this Pokemon nonetheless has high damage output and forces long battles.

Tier 2Rating Explanation
SnorlaxSnorlax Pros:
  • Very strong defender, with few losing matchups.
  • Requires a long time to defeat, longer than any other Pokemon except for Blissey.
  • Has a very high max CP

Cons:
  • Borderline vs. Dragonite and Tyranitar.
  • With dodging, susceptible to Machamp and Heracross.

Optimal Moveset
  • Zen Headbutt + Hyper Beam or Body Slam
    (Body Slam is a legacy move)
Tier 2.5

These Pokemon excel in terms of CP but are also formidable defenders in their own right. They have high damage output but only average battle length, and each defender in this tier suffers from a large weakness.

Tier 2Rating Explanation
TyranitarTyranitar Pros:
  • Formidable damage output against most attackers, including Dragonite.
  • Has the highest obtainable max CP in the game.

Cons:
  • Countered by Machamp and, to a lesser extent, Heracross and Vaporeon.

Optimal Moveset
  • Iron Tail + Crunch
DragoniteDragonite Pros:
  • Largely unresisted STAB moves and useful resistances to common attacking types result in strong overall matchups.
  • Has the second highest obtainable max CP in the game.

Cons:
  • Countered by Lapras and, to a lesser extent, Cloyster and Jynx.

Optimal Moveset
  • Dragon Tail + Outrage
RhydonRhydon Pros:
  • Deceptively good performance on defense despite 2 exploitable double weaknesses.
  • Has a max CP higher than Blissey.

Cons:
  • Countered by Vaporeon; double weaknesses to water and grass are easy to prey on with dodging.
  • With only 1-bar charge moves, Rhydon’s charge move usage on defense is predictable.

Optimal Moveset
  • Mud Slap + Stone Edge
GyaradosGyarados Pros:
  • With the addition of a largely unresisted Dragon Tail, Gyarados is a much more threatening defender than before.
  • Has a max CP higher than Blissey.

Cons:
  • Countered by Jolteon and Magneton.
  • Outrage variants are countered by Tyranitar and Golem, while Hydro Pump variants may lose before using the charge move.

Optimal Moveset
  • Dragon Tail + Hydro Pump or Outrage
Tier 3

These Pokemon are solid, well-rounded defenders with a few notable flaws.

Tier 3Rating Explanation
VaporeonVaporeon Pros:
  • Metagame-defining defender; ubiquitous in many regions.
  • Takes a longer time to KO than most other defenders.
  • Powered up past level 30, can out-CP a level 30 Blissey.

Cons:
  • Countered by Dragonite, Exeggutor, and Venusaur; soft countered by Jolteon.
  • Dodging Vaporeon’s charge moves takes away a lot of its bite.

Optimal Moveset
  • Water Gun + Aqua Tail
LaprasLapras Pros:
  • Despite a base stat nerf, Lapras remains a fundamentally strong defender, boasting one of the best matchup spreads in the game.
  • Takes a longer time to KO than most defenders.

Cons:
  • Countered by Machamp.
  • Double-ice variants are countered by Tyranitar while Hydro Pump variants fail to stop Dragonite.
  • Has a borderline unviable max CP depending on local area.

Optimal Moveset
  • Ice Shard + Ice Beam
    (Ice Shard is a legacy move)
Tier 3.5

These Pokemon are viable defenders with several notable flaws, such as low bulk, mediocre damage output, specific bad matchups, and/or low CP.

Tier 3Rating Explanation
DonphanDonphan Pros:
  • Robust base stats and plain typing yield a fair combination of damage output and bulk.
  • Strong vs. Tyranitar.
  • Powered up past level 30, can out-CP a level 30 Blissey.

Cons:
  • Struggles vs. Vaporeon, Exeggutor, and Venusaur.

Optimal Moveset
  • Counter + Play Rough
EspeonEspeon Pros:
  • Launches high-powered Confusions from a stellar attack stat.
  • Strong vs. Machamp.
  • Powered up past level 30, can out-CP a level 30 Blissey.

Cons:
  • Struggles vs. Tyranitar.
  • Takes less time to KO than most defenders.

Optimal Moveset
  • Confusion + Psybeam
ExeggutorExeggutor Pros:
  • Launches high-powered Confusions from a stellar attack stat.
  • Strong vs. Vaporeon and Machamp.
  • Powered up past level 30, can out-CP a level 30 Blissey.

Cons:
  • Struggles vs. Dragonite, Charizard, and Flareon.
  • Takes less time to KO than most defenders.

Optimal Moveset
  • Confusion + Seed Bomb
    (Confusion is a legacy move)
AmpharosAmpharos Pros:
  • Solid well-rounded Pokemon with a powerful Volt Switch on top of average bulk and few exploitable weaknesses.
  • Strong vs. Vaporeon and Machamp.

Cons:
  • Countered by Tyranitar and Rhydon.
  • With only 1-bar charge moves, Ampharos’s charge move usage on defense is predictable.
  • Has a borderline unviable max CP depending on local area.

Optimal Moveset
  • Volt Switch + Thunder or Zap Cannon
SlowbroSlowbro Pros:
  • Great moves, decent bulk, and few exploitable weaknesses produce a defender that punches above its CP tier.
  • Strong vs. Vaporeon and Machamp.
  • Ice Beam variants encourage Dragonite to tread carefully.

Cons:
  • Struggles vs. Tyranitar (Water Pulse performs better in this matchup at the expense of others).
  • Max CP is likely to be unviable depending on local area.

Optimal Moveset
  • Confusion + Psychic or Ice Beam or Water Pulse
SlowkingSlowking Pros:
  • Essentially identical to Slowbro, with the only practical difference being access to Blizzard instead of Ice Beam.

Cons:
  • With only 1-bar charge moves, Slowking’s charge move usage on defense is predictable.

Optimal Moveset
  • Confusion + Blizzard or Psychic
SteelixSteelix Pros:
  • Blissey aside, Steelix is Dragonite’s worst matchup in terms of time taken.
  • Strong vs. Tyranitar.
  • Takes a longer time to KO than most defenders.

Cons:
  • Struggles vs. Vaporeon and Gyarados; countered by Machamp, Charizard, and Flareon.
  • Max CP is likely to be unviable depending on local area.

Optimal Moveset
  • Iron Tail + Heavy Slam
Tier 4

These Pokemon are theoretically serviceable, though not stellar, defenders who are practically less viable due to low CP.

Tier 4Rating Explanation
CloysterCloyster Pros:
  • Features a strong defensive typing that is tricky to type-counter.
  • Encourages Dragonite to tread carefully.

Cons:
  • Sky-high defense is undermined by poor HP, resulting in average bulk.
  • Max CP is likely to be unviable depending on local area.

Optimal Moveset
  • Ice Shard + Avalanche
ClefableClefable Pros:
  • Decent bulk is complemented by fairy typing, which has difficult weaknesses to exploit and type advantage vs. premier attackers.

Cons:
  • Great typing and moves can only do so much to make up for lackluster stats.
  • Dodging Clefable’s charge moves takes away a lot of its bite.
  • Max CP is likely to be unviable depending on local area.

Optimal Moveset
  • Zen Headbutt or Charge Beam + Dazzling Gleam
UmbreonUmbreon Pros:
  • Takes a longer time to KO than most defenders.

Cons:
  • Despite forcing longer battles, Umbreon’s damage output is hampered by an awful attack stat.
  • Struggles vs. Machamp and Heracross.
  • Good luck placing Umbreon above the very bottom slot.

Optimal Moveset
  • Snarl + Foul Play or Dark Pulse
HypnoHypno Pros:
  • Possesses decent bulk and a powerful Confusion that offsets a low attack stat.
  • Strong vs. Machamp.

Cons:
  • Struggles vs. Tyranitar.
  • Good luck placing Hypno above the very bottom slot.

Optimal Moveset
  • Confusion + Future Sight
Quick Links
Tools

Pokemon List

IV Calculator

Moves List

Appraisals

Egg Chart

Type Chart

Power Up Costs

Buddy Distances

CP Calculator
Rankings

Gym Attackers

Gym Defenders

DPS per type