Gym Defenders Tier List

Gym Defenders Tier List

Tier List Overview

On June 22nd 2017, Niantic implemented two major updates changing the functionality of gyms and the weight of type effectiveness. While the change in type effectiveness and the removal of CP restrictions on gym stacking has brought a lot of intrigue to gym defense, the gym update has fundamentally altered the meta in a way that has more or less trivialized gym defense. After much deliberation on how to approach this issue, GamePress is proud to release its updated generation 2 tier list. This list combines our best mathematical understanding of gym defense AI, simulated matchup data, and real-world metagame analysis.

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Gym Defenders Tier List
S+ Tier

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

Pros:

  • The highest “Gym BST” in the game
  • Only weakness covered by strongest quick and charge moves
  • Has no true poor matchups
  • All movesets are viable and leagues superior in performance to the next lowest tier
  • Is unphased by the CP >3000 limitation on gyms

Cons:

  • It might take a while for you to get a return on your gym coins if placed in a low turn over area


Best Movesets:

  • Zen Headbutt or Pound + Dazzling Gleam
S Tier

These Pokemon are great defenders in essentially all situations and carry strong matchups against every attacker in the game. Though not all matchups result in victory, these Pokemon nonetheless have high damage output and force long battles.

Pros:

  • Very strong defender, with a high BST and only 1 weakness
  • Strongest quick move is SE against its 1 weakness
  • Best, non-legacy, charge move is SE against its “best” counter
  • Is unphased by the CP >3000 limitation on gyms

Cons:

  • Countered by Machamp and Heracross
  • Has a weak matchup with Tyranitar if not carrying Heavy Slam

Best Movesets:

  • Zen Headbutt + Heavy Slam or Body Slam

Pros:

  • Like Blissey in every way but with significantly lower attack and defense
  • Its extremely high bulk makes up for its lower attack
  • Optimal movesets counter and punish its worst matchups

Cons:

  • Relies on optimal moveset for performance
  • More neutral counters such as Alakazam and Dragonite handle Chansey as well as its more optimized counters (Machamp and Heracross)

Best Movesets:

  • Zen Headbutt + Dazzling Gleam
A Tier

These Pokemon are of the most formidable in the game. Their unique defensive typing limits them to only a few poor match ups and can be misleading for less experienced players. The variety of movesets they have further limit which attackers can comfortably battle them.

Pros:

  • Powerful even against its most optimal match ups
  • Unique defensive typing and unpredictable combination of STAB SE charge moves punishes Lapras’s more likely and sub-optimal match ups
  • Wards off Dragonite

Cons:

  • Countered by Machamp

Best Movesets:

  • Ice Shard or Frost Breath + Ice Beam or Blizzard or Hydro Pump

Pros:

  • Impressive bulk condemns neutral matchups to extended battle times
  • Powerful non-STAB quick and charge moves keeps it threatening even to its more optimized match ups
  • Overall, Dragonite’s worst match up

Cons:

  • Has a wide variety of optimal counters in Fighting, Fire, and Water-type Pokemon (notably Machamp, Vaporeon, and Flareon)
  • Most counters resist its STAB movesets

Best Movesets:

  • Dragon Tail + Crunch or Heavy Slam

Pros:

  • Powerful defensive typing and punishing movesets limits Muk’s optimal matchups significantly and may be very misleading to less experienced players

Cons:

  • Neutral matchups perform as well or better than SE matchups
  • Both STAB charge moves are very slow single bar charge moves with late damage windows limiting Muk to Dark Pulse

Best Movesets:

  • Infestation or Poison Jab + Dark Pulse
B Tier

These Pokemon are good defenders with powerful bulk and damage output, but are held back by having more predictable movesets and notable matchups that both resist their primary movesets and hit back with super effective damage.

Pros:

  • Confusion is one of the most powerful quick moves for defense and has extremely good coverage
  • Variety of type coverage through charge moves, often punishing more common matchups

Cons:

  • Tyranitar counters Slowbro extremely hard

Best Movesets:

  • Confusion + Ice Beam or Psychic or Water Pulse

Pros:

  • Exactly the same in performance as Slowbro

Cons:

  • Like Slowbro, Tyranitar absolutely demolishes Slowking

Best Movesets:

  • Confusion + Fire Blast or Blizzard or Psychic

Pros:

  • Unique defense typing limits Tentacruels counters to fragile Electric or Psychic-types or slow hitting Ground-types
  • Hydro Pump and Blizzard sets punish Ground-type counters

Cons:

  • Limited to single bar charge moves

Best Movesets:

  • Poison Jab or Acid + Hydro Pump or Blizzard

Pros:

  • Volt Switch is of the most powerful quick moves for defense and has extremely good coverage
  • Electric-typing limited Ampharos to slow, Ground-types as optimal counters
  • Has access to Focus Blast to punish Rhydon, Golem, and Tyranitar

Cons:

  • Ground-types hit with SE damage and have immunity tier resistance to Electric-type attacks
  • Limited to single bar charge moves

Best Movesets:

  • Volt Switch + Focus Blast or Thunder
  • Thunder > Zap Cannon due to its earlier dodge window and significantly shorter animation time

Pros:

  • Defensing typing limits counters to Electric-type Pokemon
  • Has a powerful quick attack and a variety of powerful charge moves which may allow Gyarados to KO frailer or underleveled Electric-type counters
  • Ranking is based on CP <3000, performs closer to A tier at max potential

Cons:

  • Countered so heavily by Electric-type Pokemon that it may not be able to get its charge move off
  • Held back by the CP >3000 limitation on gyms

Best Movesets:

  • Dragon Tail +  Hydro Pump or Outrage or Crunch or Twister

Pros:

  • Defensive typing limits counters to Ice and Fairy-type Pokemon
  • Dragon-type STAB attacks are powerful and largely unresisted
  • Steel Wing punishes Fairy-type and some Ice-type match ups
  • Ranking is based on CP <3000, performs closer to A tier at max potential

Cons:

  • Countered so heavily by Ice-type Pokemon that it may not be able to get its charge move off
  • Fairy-types both deal SE damage and have immunity tier resistance to Dragonite’s Dragon-type attacks
  • Held back by the CP >3000 limitation on gyms

Best Movesets:

  • Dragon Tail + Dragon Claw or Outrage or Hurricane
B- Tier

These Pokemon are solid defenders that force prolonged battle times. What separates them from B Tier is they don’t have many or any alternative movesets to help punish their more optimal counters.

Pros:

  • Pervasive neutral coverage with STAB Dark-type attacks backed with tremendous bulk

Cons:

  • Fighting-types (namely Machamp and Heracross) resist all of Umbreon’s movesets and hit back with STAB SE damage

Best Movesets:

  • Snarl + Dark Pulse

Pros:

  • Extremely high bulk coupled with powerful STAB charge moves with early dodge windows
  • Relatively long battle times compared to most Pokemon in this tier, even when at a disadvantage
  • Ranking is based on CP <3000, performs closer to B tier at max potential

Cons:

  • Very poor match ups against Grass-type Pokemon
  • Held back by the CP >3000 limitation on gyms

Best Movesets:

  • Water Gun + Aqua Tail or Hydro Pump

Pros:

  • Play Rough has an early dodge window and punishes 3 of the most powerful attackers in the game (Dragonite, Tyranitar, and Machamp)

Cons:

  • Movesets don’t really give it a significant edge over its most common counters

Best Movesets:

  • Counter + Play Rough or Heavy Slam

Pros:

  • Unique, Fairy-typing gives Clefable the most unique optimal counters out of all rated defenders
  • Zen Headbutt punishes players who know Poison-type attacks deal SE damage to Fairy-type Pokemon
  • Do you know Clefables most optimal counters without googling it? Yeah. Didn’t think so :^)

Cons:

  • Fairly limited and predictable movesets
  • Performance becomes less impressive once Clefable’s more optimal counters are figured out

Best Movesets:

  • Zen Headbutt + Dazzling Gleam
C Tier

These Pokemon are decent defenders that either have notable bulk, powerful quick moves, and/or surprising movesets that allow them punish their more common counters.

Pros:

  • High base power attacks coupled with all around good stats allows Kangaskhan to punish less optimized match ups
  • Access to the very quick charge move Stomp

Cons:

  • Countered easily by Machamp and Heracross

Best Movesets:

  • Mud Slap + Stomp or Outrage

Pros:

  • Zen Headbutt makes up for Miltank’s poor attack stat, hitting Fighting-type counters hard
  • Access to both the very quick charge move Stomp and the legendary charge move “Body Spam.”
  • Effectively a mini-Snorlax

Cons:

  • Countered by Machamp and Heracross
  • Deals laughable damage to Tyranitar

Best Movesets:

  • Zen Headbutt + Stomp or Body Slam

Pros:

  • Confusion is of the most powerful quick moves for defense and has extremely good coverage
  • Carries Focus Blast to punish Dark-type Pokemon, namely Tyranitar
  • Future Sight may punish non Dark-type Pokemon anticipating Focus Blasts long animation time and late dodge window

Cons:

  • Countered heavily by both Dark and Bug-type Pokemon

Best Movesets:

  • Confusion + Focus Blast or Future Sight

Pros:

  • Mud Slap’s high base power coupled with Stone Edge’s early dodge window and wide type coverage keeps Rhydon in the meta despite the challenges it faces with Water and Grass-type Pokemon
  • Ranking is based on CP <3000, performs closer to B tier at max potential

Cons:

  • Very poor match ups against Grass and Water-type Pokemon
  • Held back by the CP >3000 limitation on gyms

Best Movesets:

  • Mud Slap + Stone Edge
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